Tag Archives: Victorian

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: A review

1 Apr

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“The Circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it…It is simply there, when yesterday it was not” 

So reads the blurb on the back cover of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I was intrigued. I turned to the front cover and was still unsure. I opened the book and skimmed through several paragraphs. I turned to the cover again. I was swayed by the Edwardian/Victorian feel of the image used and decided this was a book worth reading.

So, I sat down and read it. I enjoyed the imagery, the introduction of many characters, the game/challenge or competition that was set up. The premise of the novel is that two young children, Marco Alisdair and his counterpart Celia Bowen, are chosen to be trained, mentored and taught how to be inventive with the use of magic. As readers. we are drawn into a whimsical world of fantasy, magic and beautiful illusions. We share the same thoughts as the performers, followers of the Circus known as “rêveurs”, who all dress in black but are distinguishable with a dash of a red item like a red scarf, rose, umbrella or handkerchief and other speculators who do not quite know how the magic of the circus exists.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  The initial objective appeared to be that Marco and Celia, with their respective mentors, experience and training in their own separate arenas and not knowing of one another for years, would eventually meet and it would culminate in an explosive end game. However, that was not meant to be…

It seemed to lull me into a false sense of security: with the unexpected death of two of the characters, I thought the novel would become a murder mystery. However, as the story unravelled, it appeared to change direction and the language appeared to be stilted and more contemporary in style. It seemed as if Erin Morgenstern was rushed by her agent to try and end the novel or find some sort of resolution. Two thirds of the novel flowed really well, the style of writing, the plots and sub-plots, the use of a diverse range of colourful and interesting characters and the dream like quality of each circus tent. Even having “followers” of the circus appeared to be a social statement on our perspective or views on the world of “celebrity”. That was all read in good faith. Then, when I was hoping or expecting a great climax, a love connection is made between Marco and Celia. The Night Circus becomes their way of symbolising their love, devotion and commitment to one another without having to be in each other’s company. That’s when I thought the novel became a little twee and saccharine in content and substance.

There are elements, characters and scenes which don’t really add anything to the narrative but are stitched together to carry it along.

I liked the overall reading experience of the novel, the manner in which scenes are created or depicted, the way it captured my imagination  and the writing style. But I was left feeling disappointed with the eventual culmination of the tale, the resolution of the two main characters. and the  ending of The Night Circus.

Saying that, I would still keep it in my book collection.

The Learned Kat

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