Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern




The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday Canada, 2011
Reviewed by Erin McSween
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
Imagine how it would feel to all of a sudden see a circus in your home town when no one knew it was coming. There was no anticipation, no build up, no begging to go; it just appears. In The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern intertwines magic, mystery and love to create the world of Le Cirque des Rêves.
Les Cirques des Rêves is not your typical circus. Instead of one main tent decked out in a multitude of colours there are many “towering tents striped in white and black” in a variety of sizes and shapes. The only hint of when the circus will be open is a “black sign painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates…that reads: Opens at Nightfall Closes at Dawn.”
The book is based upon the interaction of two illusionists, Celia and Marco, and their creation; the circus. Celia and Marco are participants in a contest in which they must compete to determine who is best. In the beginning neither of them knows who their competitor is or where the competition is to take place. It isn’t until much later that they discover who their adversary is and how the competition will end. The contest does more than create the circus itself, it also affects all those who live and work in its tents.
Right from the beginning I loved this book. It kept me guessing and always left me wanting to read more. My only criticism was of how much timeline jumping Morgenstern incorporated. For example, over the course of three chapters the reader is taken to Glasgow in 1895, Massachusetts in 1902 and then London 1896. Not only does the reader have to keep track of when they are but whose perspective the story is being told from. While it does provide readers with a complete picture of how and why the circus became what it was, I occasionally found the need to stop so that I could connect all the pieces.
On the first page of the book Morgenstern writes that, “word of mouth is a more effective method of advertisement than typeset words and exclamation points on paper pamphlets or posters.” While this is supposed to be a statement about how the mystery surrounding Les Cirque des Rêves is a what draws the crowds to them instead of announcing its arrival, I believe it is also true for any book; particularly this one. I don’t know about you, but if I see a book on a shelf I am less likely to read it, but if I hear about it I can’t wait to find it.  For that reason I am glad I listened to all the hype, because The Night Circus was worth every word. This book is available at all fine bookstores, including your U of L Bookstore.