Some books, once you read them, you turn back to them again and again like an old friend. Their pages give you comfort during some of your darkest hours. Only three books I can think of give me that feeling of comfort and peace. The Hobbit, Bitterblue, and The Night Circus.
To be fair, this book has a pretty hefty mix of reviews across the board. It’s another one of those love-it-or-hate-it works. In case you can’t tell, I love it.
I’ve read it several times now and fall more in love with Morgenstern’s world each time. I find myself thinking, “If I had to be stuck in time somewhere, I’d be okay with being there.” I could see the circus beautifully painted inside my head. This circus gives me a feeling of magic and wonder unlike real circuses which are creepy pits of despair thrust upon this world.
Morgenstern crafted a wonderland of the venue full of magic and dreams. The black and white tents, fascinating performances and performers, and the tantalizing smells wafting between the tents. The descriptions are so well written, if I close my eyes I can walk the venue in my mind. Exploring among the tents with a glossy caramel apple in my hand, gazing at the carefully hung signs that give only hints of what is to be found inside each tent. The world in which the author takes you is beautiful and wondrous, my bowler off to you Ms. Morgenstern.
I will admit though, and I hate to say it, the story is a bit slow moving. For being nearly four-hundred pages you can easily fit the summary into a hand full of paragraphs. The first time I read the book through I put it down often because I’d tire of some scene or another and wonder when that section would end. The description and content of each scene is glorious, there is just too much of it at times.
My other complaint of the book is jumping around through story lines. You read one chapter and get a good sense of the characters and what their purposes are and what is going on with the backstory. Then in the next chapter, it is a year later or ten years earlier and you are given no ruler to measure this time jump by. Only dropped hints such as “I was sad when he died last year” are there to give you a marker as to when it is during the story. At those points you have to pull yourself away from the story for a minute to remember when said character died and place when this part of the book is supposed to be. If it continued to be foreword moving, I would not have a problem with it. It distracted from the story in general.
Mind you, despite these little complaints and annoyances, the story is truly wonderful. If you are the kind of person that enjoys a fast paced, get things done and move on kind of read this book probably would not be for you. But if you want to wander through a magical world filled with interesting characters and a strange if sometimes confusing plot, this is the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it.