WRITTEN BY NAVYA JHA
Symposia : 9/10
Goodreads : 4/5
Topping my list, Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel is literary fantasy in all its glory. ‘The Night Circus’ transported me into a mesmeric world where “The Circus arrives without warning” and magic is pit against magic. What started out as just a NaNoWriMo project sold hundreds of thousands of copies in its first print; the end product was certainly worth all the years Morgenstern took to write it.
‘The Night Circus’ is, hands down, the best book I have ever read. It did almost everything right. The novel tick-tocks between a few decades and follows two independent sets of characters that, by the way, are brilliantly cultivated. Whether it be the protagonists, or just the tertiary characters, Morgenstern made sure to supply the reader with enough to bring them to life. You truly come to care for all of them. Yes, even the tertiary ones.
Nonetheless, what really made this book what it was, was Morgenstern’s writing style (*chef’s kiss*). Her way with words perfectly amplified the whimsical nature of the storyline without ever taking from it. She effortlessly painted evocative images of spellworking and profound relationships, engaging the reader. This poetic form of storytelling was consummated by the mystique of the characters, forming an incomparable phantasmagoria. If you’re still not convinced, I was tempted to start tabbing pages of the book. Now the only problem with this was that her writing failed to shed light on any of the unremarkable aspects of the story. The premise of the plot was intended to be a ruthless competition between two skilful magicians, but that never came through. There were barely any consequences to actions, making a lot of Morgenstern’s writing feel like razzmatazz. Be that as it may, she successfully lures you into her wondrous world of magical realism with words and for a moment, you disregard how oddly flawless everything is.
With all that elegant writing came a romance, shocker. Anyhow, it was never made to be flowery and successfully expressed a love between characters, both with daddy issues, that were intentionally set at variance. You really come to care for the two and the convoluted dynamic they have. Many seem to label their relationship as just another YA romance, but it's far from it. Love does seem to conquer all in this novel, but the focus lies more on the circus’s spectacular legacy and how much the characters are willing to give up for it. So say what you want, but I absolutely loved the sentimental ending to this book.
‘The Night Circus’ stands as my current favorite novel so I will be the one to tell you that it is most definitely worth the hype. In an interview, Morgenstern said “Sometimes I write what I can’t paint” and that condenses this book precisely; an unsurpassed ekphrasis. It houses illusion and adoration under its black and white striped tops, as it takes the reader along on an unforgettable journey. Go read it while I wait another six years for a new release from Erin Morgenstern.