First of all, let’s get over the shallow bit that no-one can deny…..this book is massively pretty. Black, white and red, elaborate silhouettes, Victoriana, stars and magic, I was very very excited to get started on Erin Morgenstern’s tale of the ‘Cirque des Rêves’; the brainchild of a group of Bohemian intellectuals and, unbeknownst to them, the stage of a destructive game. With their hands forced by their respective mentors, the naturally gifted Celia and carefully studied Marco commence a sophisticated battle within the gates of the Night Circus, enhancing the spectacle to something never before seen or imagined by its starstruck audience.
To presume this is a nice little autumnal read to start you off into the cold winter months would be correct. I was kept thoroughly entertained for a fair week and the story warranted a plethora of baths to give me an excuse to cosy down into this magical world. However, to think this is therefore a masterpiece or a prize winner would be, I feel, a tad misguided. This is a sumptuous book and Morgenstern’s descriptive passages (as the look of the book betrays) are clearly her forte by a long way but, acrobats, contortionists and fortune tellers aside the characters themselves, particularly the two main protagonists, felt a little two-dimensional and predictable, turning what could have been the new novel of the season into just a decent holiday read.
The premise of this story is really very impressive and just a fraction off being amazingly executed. However, I simply couldn’t escape the feeling that, as with Never Let Me Go, it lacked something. What is the point of Celia and Marco’s battle? And if there is no justifiable point then what really is the aim of the book? However pretty it may be…
All of this aside, I think this is a satisfying début novel and, when her writing and her doubtlessly huge raft of ideas matures and forms a more complete, considered shape, I will be exceedingly interested and more than happy to pick up her next offering. The Night Circus is a feast for the senses, so cinematic that I fear an adaptation with Keira Knightley coming on. And, you know what, I might actually go and watch it!
‘Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.’