The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (DoubleDay)

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves

The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

Circuses are always intriguing to read about or watch in fiction, there’s always an aura of mystery to them that can be exploited and they can work great as a backdrop for horror novels and films as was the case with Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak novels. However The Night Circus deals with a fascinating perspective that’s rarely explored in fiction and thanks to the excellent writing of Erin Morgenstern it’s played out really, really well, wonderfully written and full of imaginative, vivid details.

Enchanting and incredibly engrossing, The Night Circus immerses you fully in the novel appealing to the full wonder of the Circus, which really fleshes out the fascinating atmosphere. The details and description of the Circus is something that really gives you an excellent idea of what it’s like to be there as you find yourself really immersed in its narrative, which works perfectly well as a standalone read. Had I read this novel in 2011 when it was released it would have likely been one of my favourites, because it was just so good. I couldn’t put it down and you won’t be able to either.

The Night Circus sets the stage for a match between two opposing magicians. This book kind of reminded me a lot of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, with both stage magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale trying to outdo each other. Here these magicians have been at war for a long time and have used their apprentices to fight their battles for the, trying to train them to fight each other. But there’s a problem, the apprentices, Celia and Marko, have fallen in love with each other.

The love story is probably the most predictable parts of the novel but it at the same time is handled with care and is really explored well, creating powerfully developed characters. The book feels kind of what would happen if The Prestige was written by Neil Gaiman, and is played out pretty well indeed, with some excellent use of both magic and the Circus backdrop is really used to the best of its ability over the course of the story which continues to just get better and better.

This really is an astounding debut by Erin Morgenstern, and as a result if you haven’t read The Night Circus yet then I can recommend it, as it’s the kind of book that will drag you in and keep you hooked from start to finish.

VERDICT: 8/10

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