‘The Night Circus’ captivates and enchants readers

Lindsay Adams

The novel “The Night Circus” arrives without warning and leaves behind bittersweet memories of the experience.

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern is addictive and supernatural. Magic is perfectly interwoven with reality to create a mystical, yet grounded world that spins out of control.

Le Cirque des Rêves, or The Circus of Dreams simply appears at it’s destinations.

It opens at nightfall and closes in the morning before the sun creeps above the horizon. The Circus is black and white.

Even the ground is painted, dyed or chalked either color. It is truly a vision to behold.

However, the circus was created to be the venue for an age-old competition between the master and magicians. The magicians Prospero the Enchanter and the inscrutable Mr. A.H. both train an apprentice and then pit them against each other to prove which has the more talent and knowledge.

No rules or explanations are provided for the twisted game they must play, and the apprentices aren’t aware of whom their competition includes.

Prospero’s apprentice is his daughter Celia, who works as a stage magician in the circus. Mr. A. H—‘.’s apprentice is an orphaned boy named Marcos, who works for Circus’s inventor. Once Marcos and Celia meet, they quickly lose sight of the competition, which unbeknownst to them only allows the winner to survive. They collaborate by playing off of each other’s magic rather than trying to undermine it.

Their early flirtations quickly transform into a full-fledged love affair until the competition escalates and threatens not only the magicians, but the entire circus.

The untenable and unbreakable connection between Celia and Marcos binds them together on a path resulting in deception, betrayal and violence.

The novel twists and turns as the reader slowly navigates through the labyrinthine tents of the Night Circus, marveling at its wonder and delight while sensing the underlying malice.

The tents stretch limitlessly, stimulating the imagination. From the Ice Garden to the gravitationally impossible Merry-go Round, the tents open to new worlds. The world inside the circus is fantastical, yet there is a hint of something elusive skulking in the shadows. Slowly the circus starts to shift into a knot as twisted as the body of Tsukiko, the contortionist with a secretive past.

The characters are engrossing and eccentric, including the impulsive and forgetful circus creator, the clockmaker obsessed with the Circus’s beauty who follows the circus and the young man who sees the circus as a place for freedom.

The two main characters Marco and Celia are compelling complementary characters. They are interesting apart but absolutely riveting while together.

The senses are stimulated with Erin Morgenstern’s sensual and concise detail.

Morgenstern’s writing is evocative and yet simple, without excessive description or modifiers. This makes the book a quick but interesting read. The novel has intensity that captures the deepest emotions. It fits together as intricately as the cogs in the giant clock that marks the door of the circus.

The novel’s mastery is not immediately apparent; it almost sneaks up on the reader.

But as Frederick Thiessen in “The Night Circus” points out, “The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

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