The Night Circus, released in 2011, was the first novel written by author Erin Morgenstern, and surprise, surprise, was one of the best books I’ve read in the past year (all those seasoned authors?  You’re really starting to slack off a bit…)

The Night Circus is set during the Victorian era and follows the competition between the two main characters, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair.  The competition, devised by Hector Bowen (Prospero the Enchanter) and Mr A. H-, is to determine whether magic is better when it is inherited (as with Celia) or learnt (as with Marco).  Le Cirque des Reves, which is created by Chandresh Christophre Lefevre, is the platform to which both players can “make their move” and perform their best magic.

Of course, like with all good love stories, despite the fact that only one person can win, Celia and Marco fall in love.

There are many aspects about this book that I liked, such as the different characters that all seem fascinating and important, whom are woven into the central storyline between the two competitors, which is helped along by Morgenstern’s writing style, as the novel isn’t told in complete chronological order.  Characters like Chandresh and contortionist Tsuskiko (who also once competed like Marco and Celia), whose stories don’t necessarily need to be told, add extra dimensions to the plot.  Or the involvement between the Circus twins, Poppet and Widget, with Bailey, a teenage boy who loves the circus more than anything in the world.

More importantly though, I love the dream-like quality that surrounds this book; the feeling that anything is possible, which invariably leaves a thirst for the magical (damn reality).  The way that Morgenstern describes the Le Cirque des Reves (the circus of dreams) allows the reader to imagine what would seem almost impossible; from the clock at the gates created by Herr Friedrick Thiessen, to the innumerable tents which contain wonders like The Ice Garden, The Wishing Tree and The Pool of Tears.  And while most novels that try to create such an alternative world often fall short, Le Cirque des Reves seems almost palatable; as though, if you were lucky enough, you could look out your window one afternoon and see the masses of black and white striped tents gathered in a field near your home (maybe not if you live in Melbourne though…).

I would recommend this book to anyone who has a bit of an imagination, loves a good romance, but, above all else, wants a book that has an unexpected ending.  At no point was I sure about how this novel would finish, or what would happen to the two lovers, Celia and Marco.  And like all good books, I become to wonder about the stories of the characters who did not get to finish telling the reader about this past.


Have you read The Night Circus?  What did you think?  What aspect of Le Cirque des Reves did you like best?  Do you think it could be adapted for the screen?  Let me know!

the night circus

The Night Circus