Book Review: The Night Circus

When I just want to buy a book with nothing particular in mind, I’m usually a sucker for something with blah blah blah bestseller written across its cover. The book is written by Erin Morgenstern, who is a multimedia artist.

Image: Wikipedia

The story of the book can be summed up like this:The story takes place in late 19th century. Le Cirque des Rêves is a circus that is open only from sunset until sunrise, and feature magical shows and attractions inside it. But unknown to everyone else, the circus is actually an arena where two magicians, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair competes against each other. But like most stories where the protagonists are a boy and a girl, they then fall in love, and when two opposing individuals fall in love, some tragedy happens. There.

I actually have some mixed feeling about this novel. On one side, the novel features great detail of the circus, and all its magical feature which involves amazing visual effects made possible through the use of magic. On the other hand, I suck at imagining things and visuals from words written in novels – which is why I was having problem fully appreciating The Pillars of The Earth’s lengthy details about cathedral construction. I’m a person who appreciate intricate storyline more than detailed explanation about the scenery inside a novel.

Which is where the night circus kind of fall short. Almost three quarters of the book is spent explaining all the attractions and magical shows inside of the circus (now that I think about it since they have all these attractions shouldn’t it be a carnival instead?) and how awesome it is. Oh and although I say that it’s Marco Vs Celia, they don’t do any direct confrontation. They just compete by making magical circus shows, and see who’s better than the other. Sabotaging is also prohibited. Which is kinda like seeing two people compete in playing Sim City. To top it all, the two initially don’t know who they’re competing with (although Marco realized it first) until well halfway into the book.

Also, the story jumps back and forth between the past and the present (by present I mean the beginning of 1900s). And the present story focuses on Bailey, a teenager fascinated with the circus and pretty much no clue about what he wanted to be, so he just opted to run away with the circus and somehow play a pivotal role later in the story for no apparent reason whatsoever. The story doesn’t pick up steam until the last 1/4 of the book where suddenly the conflict got really serious and everything happens extremely quickly.

My take on this: If you’re good at visualizing novel scenes, go grab this book. However, I don’t recommend it if you’re not good at handling painstakingly slow plot.

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