I remember once going to the circus when I was younger. It started late at night, which was an adventure in itself for a kid who was usually asleep by 7.30pm. I recall the excitement I felt queueing up for tickets. It had been raining earlier, so there was a little mud mixed in with the straw underfoot. It wasn't squelchy though, so that was great. Then of course there was the circus' smell. It was a mix of sweet food, wet straw and manure. Altogether, rather than being good or bad, it was the smell of promise. A promise that something amazing was about to occur. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern perfectly captured this promising feeling and of course, the rest of the feelings associated with a circus, and this was my absolute favourite thing about the book. It was completely charming.
My favourite character was probably Herr Friedrick Thiessen, the best clockmaker I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. I could easily relate to him, considering how easily I join fan bases. You can bet your bottom dollar that had I been living in the world of The Night Circus, I would have been a hardcore rêveur!
My other favourites include Celia, Poppet and Widget. Highlight for mild spoilers:[I felt so bad for all three of them. It must have been such a burden for the twins to know little snippets about people's futures and pasts. And as for Celia... well I'm sure you understand why I felt bad for her]. I loved reading about all the times Poppet, Widget and Bailey spent together at the circus and about Celia's tricks. [I never really grew attached to Marco because I was for some reason, constantly suspicious of him. In saying that though, I was super invested in the love story between him and Celia].
I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the ending of the novel, so if you haven't read it, go ahead and skip over this bit. [Toward the end, I felt unbelievably sad. I didn't want the circus to collapse! When Bailey missed the circus, I really thought that it was over. I had lost hope. I just thought that somehow the rêveurs would attempt to start a new circus or something. But in the end, I could not have been more satisfied].
The story itself seems harmless at a first glance, but every now and then you catch a whiff of something sinister. On the surface, it all seems very fun - and a lot of it really is - but you know that something bigger than the circus is going on, you just don't completely understand what, and neither do all the characters. In the middle the plot is comparable to the human statues at the circus - almost imperceptibly moving. The constantly jumping time periods didn't help with my understanding either - I was left so confused and lost, barely getting a grip on the current time frame before shifting back or forth several years, or even mere months. When I was reading, these things annoyed me to no end. The bizarre thing is, that by the end, all the little things started coming together. It's like an enormous jigsaw puzzle that you don't realise is a jigsaw puzzle, until the end when you notice that somehow, slowly but surely, all the pieces have fallen into place. This makes for a difficult situation when it comes to rating the book. Upon the first reading, yes, parts of the book annoyed me and originally seemed to serve no purpose, but I know that if I read it again, I will thoroughly enjoy every word. How do you rate that?
Well, there's my answer.
I would recommend this to anyone that wants a bit of magic in their lives, or has given up hope on something. Overall, The Night Circus made me extraordinarily happy - the most I can ask from a book.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this wondrous novel. Have you read it? Are you planning to? What's your experience with circuses?