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Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


The Night Circus is as magical as it sounds.

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.

I would dearly love to read the reactions, the observations of each and every person who walks through the gates of Le Cirque de Rêves, to know what they see and hear and feel. To see how their experience overlaps with my own and how it differs. I have been fortunate enough to receive letters with such information, to have rêveurs share with me writings from journals or thoughts scribbled on scraps of paper.
We add our own stories, each visitor, each visit, each night spent at the circus. I suppose there will never be a lack of things to say, of stories to be told and shared.

These two passages are miles apart in in the novel. The first is the opening lines and the second is from Friedrick Thiessen, the first of the rêveurs.

Le Cirque de Rêves is a magical, travelling circus that appears and disappears at the will of Celia Bowen, the Illusionist. Yes, a female illusionist. And what is even more captivating is that she is bound to another illusionist as part of a challenge instigated by her father. The challenge is a duel of sorts and her opponent happens to be a young man besotted with her. He too is an illusionist and together they create the magic of the circus. There are some mechanical items, such as Friedrick Thiessen’s master clock, and Mr. Barris’ carousel, but many of the mechanical aspects are altered magically, and many of the magical aspects are altered mechanically in order to mask their true nature. The entire circus is fashioned in black, white and shades of grey. To honour the circus, its super fans, rêveurs, wear black, white or grey with a splash of red. They religiously follow the circus around the world, reporting to each other its location and writing articles for each other. (A bit like my Harry Potter fandom friends.)

Those who loved The Time Traveller’s Wife will be as thrilled with this novel. It has magic, romance, nasty parenting, loss, joy and everything you need to run a magical circus. (There is also a reference to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab in the acknowledgements and an assortment of perfumery references—all very much of interest to me.)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Doubleday Canada
National Post Review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Here’s a very strange little fact- Erin Morgenstern and I have been online friends for over 10 years, but have never met in person. It has been very strange to watch the phenomenon that is the Night Circus and to follow her on her journey.

She loves scent and has been a long time follower of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I personally loved the descriptions in the novel, but I wanted a bit more of a moving plot. I thought the novel excelled at creating atmosphere and visual images.

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