the night circus: book review
The Night Circus takes place between 1873 and 1903, mainly occurring in London and Concord, Massachusetts. The book takes place in a circus that is only open from dusk to dawn, and it is controlled by manipulation. The circus is enchanting, causing people to become unable to distinguish reality from circus. The patrons of the circus do not realize that it is controlled by magic, thinking it just strange and all an illusion.
Celia Bowen begins the story at six years old, brought to her father by a lawyer after her mother kills herself. Celia’s father is Hector Bowen, otherwise known as Prospero the Enchanter by the world. He performs in front of audiences who are ignorant to the fact that his magic shows are more than a pocket sewn into a jacket sleeve or a slight of hand. Hector finds out that Celia can manipulate objects, making them break or repair, similar to his own talents. He takes her in as his student to help her learn how to control the manipulation, and contacts his old friend to come and see her. His friend, the man in the grey suit, or Alexander, watches Celia carefully, regarding her skills after less than a year of study. Hector talks to Alexander, and convinces him to place Celia in a challenge with an opponent Alexander must choose and train himself. Alexander binds Celia to this game, leaving her with a scar on her right ring finger.
A few months later, Alexander arrives at an orphanage, looking to find a worthy player in the game. He finds a little boy named Marco, who is almost nine. He studies with Alexander, mostly reading and writing down symbols, occasionally attending magic shows at the theater. Afterward, the man in the grey suit binds Marco as well, leaving behind a scar very like Celia’s. Marco meets a young woman named Isobel by accident because he dropped his notebook of drawings and symbols and she finds it. He discovers that Isobel reads tarot cards, and they discuss the cards and talk about Marco’s notebook and its contents. Both Celia and Marco continue their training, Celia still with her father, Marco now on his own, until Alexander gets Marco a job as a book keeper for M. Chandresh Christophe Lefevre.
The reader is then introduced to Bailey Clarke, a ten year old boy who works on his family’s orchard farm, and dreams of being swept away by knights, taken far away from his dull life. He is dared by his older sister Caroline to sneak into the circus during the day, and to show he really did sneak in, he has to bring back something he found inside the circus. He sneaks in, and meets a red headed girl about his own age. She takes him to a place he can get out again, and she gives him her white glove so he can prove to Caroline he really snuck in.
As the book continues, the reader finds out how the circus came into existence, and follows Celia, Marco, and Bailey as their separate stories combine.
I thought this book was well written, yet at times too descriptive, to the point that I couldn’t picture the object being described. At times the book seemed to last forever and at the very beginning, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to fit together. As I read, however, the story line cleared up. Towards the end, I couldn’t put the book down because of the turn of events, but I feel like the ending was rushed, and I have many unanswered questions. Overall, it was a good book, and I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.