The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Description via Goodreads
I've never been one to complain about description--sometimes I need it more than I need dialogue. The Night Circus is not short on description by any means. The book successfully recreates the ambiance of a circus; the mystique, awe, curiosity and occasional fear. If you're unable to visualize the circus after reading this, then you should just give up on imagery (and maybe the circus) altogether.
Overall, I liked the idea of outsiders viewing the mysterious night circus as this wonderful place full of spectacle and illusion, and those from within sometimes viewing the circus as a cage. The descriptions and undertones in the beginning set me up for a great story--and my expectations were high--but the great story was never delivered.
"I'm not sure I understand the rules", Marco says. "You don't need to under stand the rules. You need to follow them. As I said your work has been sufficient." (115)
Morgenstern does a great job of setting up the place, but could have done a better job of expanding on characters, plot and rules to this 'competition'. Maybe if the two central characters, Marco and Celia, had a clearer idea of the rules and endgame, then they would have been more dynamic. To me, they were flat. The book description says a 'fierce competition is underway'--yeah, well you wouldn't know from reading. It also says Marco and Celia fall into a 'deep, magical love'...I beg to differ. Minor characters like Tsukiko, Isobel, Alexander and Prospero were much more interesting than Marco and Celia.
I felt like nothing really happened in the middle of the book...There was no actual, well-explained conflict. For awhile I accepted the ambiguous run-around because maybe it was part of the intrigue. But I'm not that type of reader. I needed to know the origins of this competition and I needed there to be more action or at least more romance. I needed plot. I'm still trying to decide if the format and all the jumping around aided in the disconnect of the story. It's quite possible.
Interestingly, even though I enjoyed many of the descriptions, I also had a problem with the details ...not necessarily a problem with the abundance of detail, but the redundancy--the fluff. Certain things were repeated over and over again, and I was just like 'I get it already!' I'm not going to forget what color the tents are between pages 15 and 16. No need to mention it again on page 17. Some things were just confusing and unnecessary. I don't know, it really irked me.
At first, it is only a random pattern of lights. But as more of them ignite, it becomes clear that they are aligned in scripted letters, First a C is distinguishable, followed by more letters. A q, oddly, and several e's. When the final bulb pops alight, and the smoke and sparks dissipate, it is finally legible, this elaborate incandescent sign. Leaning to your left to gain a better view, you can see that it reads: Le Cirque des Reves (5)
I understand why so many people like The Night Circus. The descriptions (when not too fluffed up) are fascinating. It might be a cool place to visit, if it were real. The setting is the saving grace for the book.