A Review of "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern

In 2011, a then-unknown author named Erin Morgenstern published a refreshing fantasy novel called The Night Circus. This Massachusetts-born novelist was rejected by dozens of literary agents before finding her home and sending this strange love story out into the world. I finished it a few weeks ago, and I am still enthralled by world of The Night Circus.

Morgenstern's creativity shines through on every single page of this book. Sure, the plot doesn't race along, but I was happy to take my time with the bevy of unusual characters she designed and, above all, explore Le Cirque des Rêves–the eponymous night circus. She has a knack for strange romanticism, which limits the characters to some degree (they're all pretty, talented, etc.), but I think you'll be intrigued, even if everything is almost too lovely and magical. 

At the center of our story are two magicians, pitted against each other from childhood, playing a game where neither knows the rules. The game board is Le Cirque des Rêves. As each of their skills grow, so too does the circus. It is filled with magical and mechanical feats, but visitors only know that they are drawn to its wonders. Decked out in black and white with only the rare splash of color, its decor alone is enough to make it stand out. It's a place like Hogwarts. I know it isn't real, but I want to spend my next vacation there.

There are some books that have such deep characters that you are moved along by them. Some have amazing settings that pull you in. Rare few fantasy novels have both. For me, The Night Circus was all about the setting. A few characters, particularly the twins, captured more than my passing interest, but I was distracted always by descriptions of snow-blanketed tents, gravity-defying cloud mazes, shape-shifting gowns and masterful clockworks. Morgenstern really nailed this place. I kind of hate that it isn't real.

My final word is fantasy lovers should read this book. Romance lovers will probably like it too, though I think it isn't quite a romance. Take your time. Enjoy the imagery. I know I did.

Shelly Barclay

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