What’s the most fantasy-esque book theme you can dream up? A wizard’s duel, perhaps? What if said wizard’s duel was set in a circus? There you go, (fantasy)^2.

This is my review of The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

Two children, one boy and one girl, deemed to be ‘special’ by wise old magicians, are selected for a contest. They are bound by magical rings to be competitors for life. “Neither can live while the other survives”- oh wait, that’s the other magical duel. But the same principle applies. They both have miserable childhoods, training hard for their final face-off. As adults, both become involved in a travelling Night Circus. The Night Circus is famed for its spectacular performances, and has its own cult following. Of course, its ‘magical’ performances are supported by real magic.

Eventually, each become aware of the others existence, and sparks fly. There’s a ‘twist’ that I should have spotted a mile away but didn’t, because I was expecting a straightforward fantasy.

I realize that my summary wasn’t exactly coherent- I just listed plot points in the order that they are revealed to the reader. I chose to read this (relatively) new novel because I’d heard a lot about its descriptive writing style, and I’m a sucker for a good adverb. The Night Circus didn’t disappoint here- the prose evokes visuals without being too wordy. In fact it’s a fairly short book. The plot, I have to admit, was a huge let down. The above-mentioned twist seemed convenient and predictable, and overall the premise wasn’t very well set up.

I would still recommend it if you don’t mind pretty words with not much else. 3.5/5


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