Book One in the 13 in ’13 Challenge: The Night Circus

The Night Circus book jacket

One reviewer claimed the book inspired her to get a tattoo!

The first book that I read for my 13 in ’13 Reading Challenge was The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Based on the comments I’ve gotten leading up to this post, I know that a lot of you have already read The Night Circus. For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure, here’s my quick, spoiler free, synopsis:

 Two young magicians, Celia and Marco, have been trained since childhood to participate in a “game”. They don’t know the rules, or their opponents, or just how much it will cost them to win. Their game unfolds at night, at the circus, across years and continents … and it touches the lives of more people than they could possibly imagine.

I hadn’t heard of it before my mom recommended it to me over the holidays, so I started reading with absolutely no expectations. I was hoping to find something that would distract me from my real life for a while, and would take me somewhere that I hadn’t been to before.

Well, did Erin ever deliver! Her words grabbed my attention from the very first page  and held on tight for the remaining 399:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local papers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

When I’ve reviewed books here in the past, I’ve created quick and breezy little snapshots of my experience by focusing on a single element of the story, like favourite characters or quotable quotes. I found that I couldn’t do that with The Night Circus. My experience reading this book was too … big.

Perhaps it’s because I was working my way through some personal things and craving escape when I started reading, but I haven’t found a book to be this completely transporting and immersive in a long time. I felt like I was living in the Circus from the first page to the last. Morgenstern provides such specific, vivid details for you to latch onto while you’re reading that the magic in the story never feels overblown. It’s magnificent and amazing, sure, but each illusion feels like it’s grown organically out of the hearts and minds of the two main characters, so it never feels grandiose or over the top.

Morgenstern isn’t showing off, here; she’s showing you her characters’ souls. The

Black and white pen drawing

Love personified in pen and ink. Found on Tumblr.

scale of the tricks that Celia and Marco perform may be massive, but because each of  their magical feats are grounded in the few tiny, precious moments the magicians spend together, they feel intimate, and true.

It wasn’t until I was about a third of the way through the book that it hit me: The Night Circus is a love story.

And it was exactly what I needed.

My annual re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows aside, the fantasy genre is a bit of a departure for me. What about you? Have you read The Night Circus? What did you think of it? Are you a fan of stories with magical elements?

As promised, next Tuesday we’ll be discussing book #2 in my Challenge: The Rules of Civility. In the meantime, Wordful Wednesday is tomorrow! I hope to see you there!

love amb

7 thoughts on “Book One in the 13 in ’13 Challenge: The Night Circus

  1. I haven’t read, nor heard of, The Night Circus, so of course now I am intrigued by your synopsis and sharing your thoughts on reading it. I too could use a little transport out of daily thoughts..this sounds great. I just downloaded the sample to my Kindle to ‘save’ it for one of my next reads. Great choice! xo

    • Ooh goodie! You’ll have to let me know what you thought after you have a chance to read the sample. For me, it was one of those really long books that felt like a really short read.

  2. Pingback: Book Two in the 13 in ’13 Reading Challenge: Rules of Civility « words become superfluous

  3. Pingback: Superfluous Oscar Countdown, Day Eleven: Guilty Pleasures « words become superfluous

  4. Pingback: Book Two in the 13 in ’13 Reading Challenge: Rules of Civility | words become superfluous

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