Book Title : The Night Circus
Author : Erin Morgenstern
First up, let me ease the hearts of those still reeling under the impact of ‘Forty Rules of Love’ by Elif Shafak. Make this your next read.
The Night Circus is a tale of love, that portrays love at its most poignant, an understatedly elegant ‘Romeo – Julietesque’ vein. Celia and Marcus are young magicians who have been competing against each other, with the Night Circus serving as their amphitheater, and each knows that they are in competition but not the identity of their rival. They have the kind of respect for each other that I wish would be impressed upon young minds – where one applauds the genius of a rival and then considers how to stretch themselves into doing something even better. To paraphrase from one of my favorite poems, ‘I’ll not deny him his merit, but I’ll strive to prove my own’.
At a young age, each has been bound into competing by their teachers, old magicians with the kind of egos that correspond with age and superlative abilties that unfortunately are not tempered by the finest qualities of grace, humility and compassion. They can’t do much but compete and this has to go on until there is a winner.
Central to this is the Night Circus, a gorgeously breathtaking panoply of black and white tents housing circus acts and feats of exquisite uniqueness, fueled by inordinate skill and magic. Under Morgenstern’s pen the circus comes alive in the reader’s imagination, with its richly details descriptions that have the kind of visual appeal rarely found in books – as you read along, you can close your eyes and see the circus and its wonders. This alone was a source of delight to me, especially since most authors tend to write such long winded descriptions that a reader like me ends up skimming through passages about every intricate detail (case in point – Amish Tripathi’s ‘Shiva Trilogy’, especially the second book in the series).
Apart from Celia and Marcus, and their teachers, there’s a wider cast of interesting characters, with plenty eccentricities and idiosyncracies to keep the reader engaged. Backstories are dealt with adroitly, so that one ends up knowing neither too much (familiarity with side characters at times does breed contempt), nor too less (little engagement leaves one feeling that a certain character is superfluous and essentially unessential to the plot).
Here’s the best part – the book is written in a non linear narrative, so locations and dates at the start of chapters are important, and yet this doesn’t lead to a sense of confusion. The descriptions of the circus are interspersed adroitly between chapters that carry forward the story, and that lends itself well to the overall theme of magic being controlled chaos in essence. It’s rather like walking into a maze with twists and turns and surprises as you turn the page, but all the while you know there’s a ‘method to the madness’, and you’re on the path that leads to an end.
I read this book slowly because I didn’t want it to end. But it has and that’s that.
Freshly minted YAs who are trying to go past the Harry Potter and regular fantasy fiction stories and characters, might enjoy giving this a try as well. As well as those looking for a heart touching read, that pairs equally well with a glass of wine as well as a mug of hot chocolate.
I’ve chosen to caption the pic below “Sweet Delight and Endless Night”. If you’re aware of the quote and have read the Night Circus, you’ll smile and we’ll know we are ‘Reveurs’.