Some books just call out to you. With it’s beautiful cover that reminded me of a dark, cloudless, starry night, The Night Circus beckoned. Before reading this book, I’d flirted with ‘magical realism’ somewhat but it was never serious. This book changes that.
The Night Circus is a common enough story of a battle between two sides in the uncommon environment of a circus. Given the constraints – of a battle where the victor is the last one standing and a budding love between the two fighters, Morgenstern has managed to create a story that doesn’t focus completely on the star-crossed lovers but rather on their journey. It’s hard to keep an audience captivated when the ending is so brutally clear and yet, Morgenstern manages to do just that.
Under her vivid imagination and literary genius, the circus comes to life. When you read the text, you enter the circus just like the circus goers in her book. You see the sights they do, you experience what they experience. And here is where you’re truly lucky. You get to revel in the circus through the eyes of each of her circus goers and unlike them, you can return to the circus at any time and as many times as you please. The narrative flows effortlessly and is peppered with detailed descriptions of the circus and its attractions so much so that all your senses are overwhelmed.
What I particularly loved about the book was the fluidity of the story. It’s easy to get mired in the descriptions and forgo the story but Morgenstern keeps a firm grasp of the tale and never once does the story suffer at the hands of the narrative. An admirable feat for a book so detailed. Marco and Celia’s love story doesn’t come off as unrealistic or too intense. It feels as destined as the circus feels real. There isn’t any over the top description of their attraction to one another, and this could easily have been done given the magical elements. But it is the sheer simplicity of their love that grows on the reader.
All the characters are well-defined and their stories have as much to contribute to the overall tale as do the main characters. It was wonderfully nice to meet some of the secondary characters and see them take on a life of their own. I was a little off put by the ending because that seemed somewhat abrupt given how languidly the rest of the text progressed. And yet, on further reflection, it didn’t seem completely impossible. Clearly, it had been worked into the text very, very subtly.
There isn’t a sense of urgency or theatricality to The Night Circus. It is a story that occurs over the years and is told with the same kind of pace. This isn’t your book if you’re looking for a quick read or a thrilling story. But it is precisely what the soul needs when its suffering from a lack of beauty and a sense of tranquility amidst a frenetic life.