Book – The Night Circus
Author – Erin Morgenstern
Year – 2011
Genre – Fantasy
Pages – 387
Bought for me by Sam and Simon Blanking
The first thing I want to mention here is what a beautiful looking book this is. With a monochrome cover containing just a splash of red, and black sided pages it was already one of the best looking books that I have read in a long time, but when I discovered the red ribbon bookmark in the middle, it became an object that I wanted to – and did – show off to friends.
To make things even better, this was a prime case of it being acceptable to judge a book by its cover. Set in a Victorian era, a challenge is issued by an enchanter that will pit his daughter against an opponent of his counterpart’s choosing. The venue for their encounter is set as a circus – one that appears without warning, and opens only at night. We follow many of the principal players in both the game, and the circus, over many years, jumping forward and backwards between different times, places, and viewpoints, finding out snippets of information about the challenge as the story progresses.
The story is solid. It is a complicated plot, with a wonderful slow reveal throughout, and some charming characters along the way. I always wanted to know a little bit more, but unlike many books, it didn’t make you wait until the very end for the full reveal. However, the true joy of The Night Circus is the world that Morgenstern has created.
The Circus of Dreams that the book is based around is popular because of its dreamlike atmosphere – it is a circus where anything could happen, and its visitors are not sure if they have been there for half an hour or a whole night – and Morgenstern’s writing paints this picture perfectly. She evokes not just the smells and sounds of the circus, but the ideal of it as well. The ethereal quality that she tells us her characters are feeling is the same ethereal quality to which we are treated. The fact that this is a debut novel only makes it all the more impressive.
In reading bits here and there about the book, a lot of people have been comparing the book to Harry Potter or The Twilight Saga. This seems to me to be a mile off – the depth of the character base, and the creation of a fictional world of the Harry Potter series is, whilst by no means being anywhere near the only example of it, a great feat and one that isn’t replicated her, and the less said about Twilight the better – but I know exactly what they are getting at. This book is definitely not it, but you get the feel that with little effort, Morgenstern would be more than capable of creating a series that does the same as what these other books have achieved. And it would be a beautiful, rich world with some real scope to develop into a long term series.
In the meantime, I shall just keep an eye out for whatever Erin Morgenstern puts out next. And just like the Circus of Dreams, I will be anxiously waiting for it to arrive.
Find Erin Morgenstern’s website here.