When I randomly picked up The Night Circus for its cool cover art, I didn’t expect the magic inside its pages.
I usually read darker fiction, so the reviews on the back marketing the book as a “luxuriously romantic” love story didn’t exactly sell me.
Thankfully, the jacket description doesn't do justice to the actual story. It's an adventure full of fantastic feats of magic, dangerous games, and, of course, an impossible circus.
This book is a CF favorite for so many reasons. If you haven't read it yet, scroll on down to see why The Night Circus needs to be next on your "to-read" list.
A circus that appears only at night, at seemingly random times and places, serves as the perfect stage for a competition between two magicians, both raised from childhood to defeat the other.
Surrounded by beautiful and impossible acts, the two must build on their own strengths and skills to win a game that they never signed up for—and decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to do it.
Each chapter is filled with new descriptions of the impossible: an unsustainable garden of ice that lasts through even the hottest summer months, disappearing competitors and contortionists, and illusions carried out by fire, doves, and anything else that the magicians can dream up.
It is not the acts themselves (wildly creative and otherworldly as they may be) that inspire awe in the readers, but the way that Morgenstern’s words manage to bring them to life.
What I Loved About It:
- The "Midnight Dinners": Each meal described in the book is a delicious mystery, with the cooks never revealing exactly what they’ve made, forcing the guests to focus on the exact tastes and smells to figure it out themselves. They let each bite melt in their mouths, trying to discern the exact spices and ingredients the course uses, and they have a wonderful time doing it. Each dinner is portrayed like a magic act in itself by the way Morgenstern incorporates both mystery and theatrics.
- The Color Scheme: The circus and its performers are all outfitted in black, white, and grey. The juxtaposition of the lively, magical circus with such a barren color scheme provides surreal imagery in almost every scene. Check out our post on fashion inspired by the book for some outfits that would fit in the monochromatic world of The Night Circus!
- The Characters: The relationships and people are appropriately dramatic. Morgenstern writes them as performers without falling into the trap of portraying them as edgy, melodramatic narcissists. We watch the characters grow from children into adults ready to compete against one another. Best of all, neither of them are written as either exact copies of their younger selves or complete strangers to them. The people in this book are relatable, believable individuals who will stick with you long after you read the last page.
- The Mood: There are so many books that rely fundamentally on the themes of loss and trouble throughout their pages. While those, of course, are wonderful, it was refreshing to read something that also relied on beauty and the idea of pushing the limits of the possible. There are obstacles in this story for the characters to overcome. Just as important as surviving is having a life worth living.
This book easily became one of my favorite books I've read in recent memory, if not my very favorite, within the first few pages. It’s 512 pages of endless opportunities, enchantments, and wonder, and I left this book feeling beyond inspired.
I highly recommend this read to anyone who sees the value in dreaming.
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