Should I Buy? – The Night Circus

I know it may seem like I’ve forgotten this site, but I really haven’t. I’ve got no computer of my own right now and I’ve been swamped with work. But now, here it is. A new review. For a book. Alright, so it’s only almost service as usual.

Erin Morgenstein’s The Night Circus is a recent romantic fantasy novel, in which the titular Night Circus is a magical, traveling circus of dazzling sights and experiences. Against this backdrop two rival magicians are pitted against each other in a mysterious game their masters force them to play. The easiest way to find if this is for you is to ask yourself one simple question: do you like romance stories? If so, then this is the book for you. A pair of star crossed lovers in immaculate and beautiful setting with immaculate and beautiful clothes get all gooey eyed over each other.

Alright, so that’s overly simplistic and a little unfair. The characters are deeper than that, although of course the romance does eventually consume the plot at the expense of all the interesting secondary characters, mind bending circus acts and subplots. I can’t really call this a criticism, because it’s kind of the point of romantic fiction. And despite how I’d have preferred the plot to go in a different direction given its internal mythology, I was still interested enough to read until the end.

Looking over what I’ve done on this site, it may seem strange that I picked this book up, but I was hooked by the failbettergames online game version which I believe is still open. It’s a great supplemental experience to the novel. Go check it out.

Morgenstein’s certainly got a knack for description. She makes everything seem beautiful and enchanting without it ever descending into over flowery purple prose. The characters never really sold themselves to me, but the rotating cast don’t contain a single grating member. The pace is kept up nicely with the short chapters, though the book will quite happily jump around between 1901 and 1902 at times, meaning that it can be a little difficult to keep the internal timeline in your head.

My verdict? A-. Really good, could have been great if it’d expanded on its own world and characters a bit more. However, it is a well paced, well written fantasy novel that’ll hook you in for the ride given half a chance.


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