The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be seen. No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black-and-white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with an elaborate wrought-iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.
The ticket booth clearly visible behind the gates is closed and barred. The tents are still, save for when they ripple ever so slightly in the wind. The only movement within the circus is the clock that ticks by the passing minutes, if such a wonder of sculpture can even be called a clock. The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold. The sun disappears completely beyond the horizon, and the remaining luminosity shifts from dusk to twilight. The people around you are growing restless from waiting, a sea of shuffling feet, murmuring about abandoning the endeavor in search of someplace warmer to pass the evening. You yourself are debating departing when it happens. First, there is a popping sound. It is barely audible over the wind and conversation. A soft noise like a kettle about to boil for tea. Then comes the light. All over the tents, small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. The waiting crowd quiets as it watches this display of illumination. Someone near you gasps. A small child claps his hands with glee at the sight. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
My feelings are so conflicted about this book. I don't know whether to immortalize it for all eternity in a frame on my wall, or throw it into the fire.
So, how am I supposed to rate this book? A million stars, one star, 837 stars, what? In the end I did some crazy, overly complicated math that really makes so sense in my head, and came out with four (which I raised to 4.5 because I'm such a weakling) stars.
For the longest time during the book, over two hundred and fifty pages, I thought that I disliked this book for some very specific reasons, but this is where the confusing part comes in so hang with me for a second: once you get to the end, you realize that you only thought you hated those parts, and it was really all part of Morgenstern's brilliant plan!
I'll explain! Let me start by saying that this is a book you definitely have to read twice. The first time, you really aren't going to understand all of the nuances and parts of this story until, well, until it's way too late.
Most books and/or series that you read these days, you pretty much know the whole plot and how it's going to end: in a predicable, sappy, cheezy, blah blah blah you've read it a million times kind of ending; sometimes even just a couple of pages into the novel. In The Night Circus , you really don't. The plot strings start out so loosely that you can see little to no connection to them besides the two obvious ones with Marco and Celia. You've seen loose strings before in many a sloppy novel, so you just dismiss out all of ones you deemed "unimportant" in your eyes and focus on Marco and Celia. Wrong move. You get more and more confused as the book goes on; what's with all the other POVs and time jumps? Really, just a general what the hell is going on? But that's not the truth; while you're so eagerly and attentively looking at your two little strings, Morgenstern brings all of those other little strings closer.....and closer......and closer together until, unbeknownst to you, she starts weaving them in with Marco and Celia. As I said, you're still in the dark about most of it, but you do notice that the book is getting better, but don't realize until there's only about forty pages left that, holy geez, your two little strings that you started out with is now a huge, complicated, rope, but the book won't let you stop and analyze it. It carries you forward in a wave of sheer awesomeness as you devour every page. Then, you get to the end of the book, and your brain blows up. It literally blows into a million billion little pieces all over wherever you're sitting as your cat crawls all over you and nips your ankles (which is why I suggest you don't finish this book in a public place, because you will be incapacitated for several minutes and look like an invalid).
When you finally get your brain back together, it almost blows up again when you realize that she planned for you to feel like this all along. She's been playing you and has had you wrapped around her little pinky finger from the start. Like Great Expectations, you're never really going to understand the plot and all of the strings fully until you read it through twice, when you can really fully comprehend every little detail that Morgenstern wrote into this story.
Now that I told you about how my brain exploded about twice, let me get on with this review and tell you what I thought was annoying:
What I'm about to tell you right now is not a joke. There are fifteen POVs/main characters in this book that you're supposed to keep track of, and in case you still don't believe me, I'll list them for you:
12. Mr. Murray
14. Tante Padva
There are also chapters where she does it in POVs of other people from the circus, and sometimes she writes as though you're the one walking through it. Like I said, the first time you read through it, this can be very confusing and overwhelming, but once you read it through again, knowing the ending (and you can bet that I re-read this amazing book the second I was done with it) you truly understand these characters and why Morgenstern did it. And, no, I'm not going to tell you what at the end of the book made me change my mind so suddenly, you'll just have to read it yourself and be as astounded as I was. It's definitely worth waiting for.
BUT I love love love her descriptions. I felt like I was truly THERE.
The Night Circus was much like an aerial silk performer as the story slowly and gracefully wrapped itself around me, unfolding at the same time a magical world with intertwining stories of the past, present and future. Of love, hate, hope, pain all bringing together a story that is unforgettable.
The circus arrives without warning.
Until the next chapter,
I'm Tory, the creator behind The Barmy Fox. My current loves