For the first half of Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus,” I was thoroughly confused. I was enjoying reading the novel, but I couldn’t seem to fully grasp how each chapter connected to the next. The book details the paths of three different individuals and before their paths intersect about halfway through the book, it can be confusing to keep track of all of the different personalities involved.
Normally, my confusion that far into a book would force me to put it down, but despite my lack of understanding, the world that Morgenstern had created made me immensely curious. I might not fully understand the plot yet, but the characters, with their ability to manipulate the world around them and their longing for a haven for misfits, were fascinating and familiar.
Once I hit the halfway point in the book, the different narratives began to gel together in my mind like cogs in a machine, and I was finally able to see the book as a whole rather than so many little parts. I will warn potential readers that once everything slots into place, you will be unable to put this book down.
In a short synopsis of sorts, the book follows two individuals through their lives as they prepare for a duel against each other. The opponents know very little about the duel except that they have been preparing for it their whole lives, and in it, they will need to showcase their magical abilities. As a vehicle to help foster their magic and practice, their teachers create a circus, open only at night. Visitors who visit the circus are amazed by amazing feats and exhibits that seem impossible. In truth, they are, as so much of the circus is created to show off the skills of the competitors.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is that despite the circus being a ruse and part of a much larger game, many visitors who attend become enthralled with it. A fan club of the circus forms, with those in the know wearing a flash of red to show off their love. I loved this aspect of the novel because it reminded so much of the fans of TV shows and movies who see an escape in them and are able to make friends with people, even many from far away because of their love. It was never the circus’ intention to create a devoted fan base, but it happened nevertheless. Even though this book takes place in the 19th and 20th century, Morgenstern highlights the power of fandom and how it can bring people together.
“The Night Circus” is a book that completely transports the reader into its world, just like visitors to the circus in the novel are transported to a world filled with magic and incredible feats.
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