Magic powers the book and putting me under its spell. That’s how I describe The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (and the covers are mesmerising). The novel centres on a pair of star-crossed gifted lovers Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair who are trained to be each other’s competition. Their magic powers the mysterious Le Cirque des Reves which gains popularity (for centuries to come).
Celia and Marco have to try to escape from the competition if they want to be together, but without them, the circus and its employees would crash.
The language of The Night Circus gives such vivid imagery and it does feel like being transported to the 19th century where phantasmagoria was the hype – the presence of magic adds an elegant touch and it’s great to have the circus travelling everywhere, not restricted to Europe and the US, since circuses are immune to cultural/language barriers.
We also get the dark side of 19th century entertainment beyond profit and tricking a gullible audience into believing something false. The Night Circus touches on corruption, and workers being perceived as objects and exploited by employers.
There’s a sense of being distant from the rest of the world. The characters who are Le Cirque des Reves employees are in their own bubble, untouchable, and I like the idea that they’re tied to the circus and if they’re outside of it for too long, they will meet…their end (and you thought they controlled the circus) – and the effect of this on the characters shows their human, ordinary selves. They have feelings just like everyone else.
I found myself comparing to The Night Circus to Museum of Extraordinary Things which has a similar plot. I think Night Circus is better in terms of characterisation, romance and antagonists. There’s just more at stake.