I was debating with myself if I should either review it immediately after finishing it or sit back for some days to stew over all I read and then take my time to write a review.
Honestly, both of them work. I chose the first one though.
Truth be told, no review of mine will do justice to this fantastically written masterpiece. I have thwarted reading it repeatedly since my first taste of circus themed books ended badly. But a recent read made me curious and I dove into this masterpiece, and realized what a gem I was putting off.
I have read never a book like this, though its magical words and ethereal descriptions made me realize there will never be a book as good as this. From the first chapters, I realized this so I sat back and let it mesmerize me.
Erin Morgenstern is a true storyteller, who weaved the story into such a beautiful way you cannot simplify the story without butchering its essences, what this book stands to accomplish, the same way if you describe a circus as nothing but a place to be entertained by some odd performers.
So without beating around the bush, I’ll dive straight into the dissection without butchering it.
The story is, as you can guess from the title, about a mysterious circus which appears in a town without any notice, and leaves the same way. The circus begins to operate after sundown and closes before sunrise. The main plot is about two people, who are pitted against each other since young age by their master charmers. They are given no choice but to do this, and soon they are also tangled by the binding of love other than the binding their masters had them trapped in. Alongside this storyline is numerous others that somehow impact the main plot, but have their individual footing as well.
The story is told from multiple POV, and each POV adds to the story.
The female protagonist among the large cast, she is one of the two players. Her father, the famed magician, Hector Bowen, binds her into this game without her consent at the age of six. I loved the air of mysticism in her POV, and how the author both discloses her secrets only to introduce new ones to ponder and wonder about.
He is the other player, and the male protagonist of the story. As an orphan, he was plucked out of an orphanage with the false promise of security. His POV seemed more clearer to me than Celia.
Though not a main player of the story, he is integral to the plot and several times the chapters are from his POV. A black sheep and a disappointment to his parents and a victim to his older sister’s bullying, he is a dreamer who finds solace and solitude in the circus whenever it comes to his city.
Bailey’s love interest, she has lesser POV chapters, though she too plays an integral role in the book.
He is Poppet’s fraternal twin and gets lesser POV chapters than Poppet, but like Bailey and Poppet, his role is important.
The mysterious contortionist of the circus, she is a Japanese woman who, though she never gets any POV chapters of her own, plays a shadowy player until the ending of the book.
Initially Marco’s love interest only to be replaced later by Celia, Isobel is a fortune teller, and also crucial to the plot. She gets several POV chapters of her own and we see the heartache of unrequited love through them.
He is the absentee proprietor of the circus. His brain child, the circus is his dream project that comes to fruition after he collaborates several exceptional individuals. He also is a key character to the plot.
An elderly European clockmaker, he later becomes besotted with the circus and begins the club of the circus’ devout fans worldwide. He is also close friends with Celia and his presence in the book later propels the plot.
He is the main antagonist of the book, whose greedy and cruel manipulation of his daughter makes him a hateful, spiteful person throughout the book.
He is the master of Marco Alisdair. Comparatively, he is the lesser antagonist, who though pits Marco in a game with a competitor he loves, later regrets his choices and somewhat has earned my forgiveness.
Mr. Ethan Barris:
An engineer who was roped into the project of the Night Circus, he is an integral player to the book, albeit he stops appearing in the book later.
Tara and Lainie Burgess:
Sisters, they play crucial albeit smaller roles in the book. They are also founder of the circus alongside Chandresh, Mr. Ethan Barris and Mr. A.H—.
She is the last of the six founders and investors of the circus. Her role comparatively smallest, she plays a matronly role in the book and to Celia.
03. The setting:
Maybe I’m wrong but I think this book was the one which reintroduced circus and carnival back in trend. The book treats the setting as a separate entity. And there are often chapters where the reader is taken on a vivid detailed tour of the circus. I loved those chapters and I could picture myself in the place. The setting isn’t just a backdrop. It’s crucial to the plot of the book itself.
The romance in this book reminds me of the romance in the book The Time Traveller’s Wife. After halfway through the book, we get to the part where Marco and Celia have fallen for each other but the first half isn’t a waste. We can guess and sense they’ll be intense, passionate lovers in future. The anticipatory rhythm the first half of the story builds for the romantic crescendo found later in the book is self satisfying. Every single time Celia and Marco are in the same room and in the same pages, the reader’s heartbeat picks up. If that is not slow building romance I dunno what is. Every stolen touch, every covert glances make your heart pound in anticipation. So Erin Morgenstern is a master of slow building romance.
Overall, this book deserves more than just five stars and this review. I can gush all day about it and still won’t run dry of its deserved praises. This book is a dream come true, literally and connotatively. It’s a timeless masterpiece I’d pick up again and again and never feel bored.