adjectives: dreamy, atmospheric, intricate, dazzling, scrumptious, otherworldly
Am I describing The Night Circus, the novel by Erin Morgenstern, or Le Cirque des Rêves, the book’s main setting?
The majority of the action takes place within the circus. I’d argue that the circus is the main character. As I reader I became more invested in the character as a place than what happens to any of the people involved, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are moments where the characters do shine, but mostly only ornaments, baubles decorating the circus. The action and romance plots are both in service of the circus.
It’s a beautifully written book, full of vivid and enchanting description. The story is intriguing, and the whole thing moves along easily and pleasantly.
Yet as much as I enjoyed the book, it struck me as oddly hollow. It may have been too much of a fairy tale for my taste — everything that happens seems destined, playing out perfectly. There were twists, but none that startle, nothing that interrupts the way the book progresses like finely made clockwork. That isn’t necessarily a flaw, but there is never anything visceral, never anything that took my breath away. It came close, but left me wanting more.
The Night Circus the novel never manages to reach the level of spirit and importance it gives to it’s title setting. It is a lovely shiny distraction, but nothing more.