A Book Devoured: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Nothing is better on a cold winter's night than a fantastical story to make you forget the chill and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is just the read for that.

It's difficult to say what genre this book falls into. Perhaps circus fantasy is the most appropriate? The Night Circus follows the lives of its two protagonists, the beautiful Celia Bowen and orphan Marco Alisdair and their work at a traveling circus. On the surface, the two could not seem more unalike; Celia is charming, beautiful and a natural performer thanks to the (often ruthless) tutelage of her famous magician father, while Marco is the quintessential studious orphan who is raised by a mysterious benefactor who surrounds him with books, food and nothing more, but they are actually very alike. Both Celia and Marco have a special talent for magic, a skill that the two don't realize will cause their fates to be inextricably intertwined forever. Pitched unwillingly against each other in a battle of wits, magical skill and creativity, the two start off as wary adversaries, but when they finally meet face to face, the competition turns to passion and the consequences for those around them change everyone's lives forever.

One part love story and two parts fantasy with a dash of historical drama, The Night Circus can only be described in fancy adjectives like wondrous, dream-like and ethereal. The prose is pretty flowery so at first I thought the author to be pretty pompous, but I persevered on as I wanted to understand where this story would go to next. I suppose the use of such contrived language is to try to convey, without just telling you, how unusually unique the Night Circus is. The circus is singular in all the circuses in the world and is in its own rights, a main character of the book just as Celia and Marco are. It has the best snacks, the most exotic performers and its tall black iron gates swing open only from dusk to dawn. No other circus in the world can match its wonders, but the real wonder is just how it is all made possible.

Originally written as a NaNoWriMo project, The Night Circus is Morgenstern's first published work. The Night Circus has received many accolades and comparisons to series like Harry Potter, but unfortunately wasn't as thrilling or as compelling. Morgenstern excels at painting mental pictures of her world and conveying the crazy embellished inventions inside the circus, but she doesn't explain enough about each character's back story to make you feel invested. When a couple side characters die off, it just feels like an after-thought and nowhere near the gut-wrenching ache as when Fred Weasley or even Dobby dies. I'd say The Night Circus is a good read if you just want some distraction, which makes it the perfect book for a commute, plane or just curling up for an evening on the couch.

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