The circus arrives with no warning. There are no posters or billboards to notify you of its arrival. Inside the circus awaits tents of wonder and magic. The catch? The circus only opens at night and closes before dawn; for one night only, before moving on.
The plot follows a few different people, but the two main characters are Celia and Marco. In the beginning, they have never met and yet they have been roped in to a secret competition.
Celia is part of the circus while Marco helps to manage it from the outside. The circus is simply their board and the tents are like their chess pieces. Celia and Marco have no idea how to win the competition, but when they do finally meet, it becomes less of a competition to them and more a collaboration of their talents.
The Night Circus is not just a magical tale but also a historical one. It is set in the late 19th to the early 20th century. The historical developments of the time are noted throughout the book; from intricate clock work to improving architecture.
The circus travels through major cities using the newly improved railway networks of the time. New York, London, Paris and so many more. The visuals described in this book take on a life of their own. I found it to be more captivating than the plot and characters, despite them being intricately written about as well. Erin Morgenstern paints such a vivid image it is like a movie flashing in your mind.
Celia and Marco are admirable, respectable and authentic characters. Celia’s father did not dote on her, he did not show affection for her. He would only focus on her training as an Illusionist. He was the type of father that would break her fingers just so she would learn how to heal them. Marco on the other hand does not have a father nor a mother. He is an orphan that was picked specifically for this competition. The man who adopted him would leave him alone for days, even weeks, only returning to see what he had learned. Alongside these characters there is an eccentric clock maker, Herr Friedrick Thiessen. A mysterious contortionist, Tsukiko, and two adorable twins born inside the circus, Poppet and Widget. There are many more wonderful characters that recur throughout the book.
This book is lulling, seductive and intoxicating. It is one of my all time favourite books that I will happily read over and over without ever getting bored. I think it is the perfect book to read all year round, but the Christmas lights and festive season tend to remind me of the magical setting of the circus.