This was a beautiful book. I mean, look at that cover. Just gorgeous. And the story inside is even more beautiful. The descriptions (and there’s masses of description) are so lyrical, so vivid that the circus and its inhabitants just jump off the page. It’s just so stylish. You get a real feel for what everything looks like. (Bedecked in ribbons. There are a lot of ribbons. They use them for everything, not just for decorating stuff. And ribbon’s not cheap. I know I’m putting a fairly mundane slant on this, but it was something that really stood out. So. Much. Ribbon.)
The romance was sweet and had some really touching moments. I didn’t really understand what the attraction was between Celia and Marco, like what common ground they had beyond the competition - they just seemed to suddenly be in love out of nowhere - but they were very sweet together once they’d found each other.
So, why only three stars? Firstly, let me point out that three stars means I enjoyed it. It’s a book that’s perfectly readable but that ultimately didn’t blow me away and it took me until about three quarters of the way through to realise why it wasn’t blowing me away. The Night Circus is, like I said, a beautiful book, whimsical and lyrical, but ultimately not much happens. There’s the competition between Celia and Marcus, but the rules of the competition aren’t divulged until right near the end and by then it’s a bit of a anti-climax. Hell, even the two competitors don’t know what the rules of the competition are. Up to this point there’s a whole bunch of gently-flowing scenes, a sweet romance, but that’s about it.
Other than description. There was description coming out of my ears. I knew exactly what every character and every aspect of the circus looked like. I didn’t necessarily get to know a lot about the characters’ personalities (they felt slightly cardboard), but I could definitely envisage everything perfectly.
The huge amounts of description were fine but it left me feeling like this story was the literary equivalent of candy floss: pretty, tasty but ultimately unfulfilling. It slowed the pace down, too, which made the book seem longer than it really is.
Another thing that I found tricky was the non-linear plot. It dotted backwards and forwards (which is fine) but because there wasn’t a whole lot going on with the plot, there were very few anchors or hooks to orient myself with in terms of the time line. It was mostly a series of beautifully described scenes with very little in them that enabled me to think, ‘Ah yes. This scene comes before such-and-such but after such-and-such.’ I had to keep skipping back to the beginning of the chapter to see what year we were in.
If you’re anything like me and usually go for plot-driven books, I would still recommend this book, but I’d say this: detach every curious, questioning part of your mind before reading this book. Enjoy it for its descriptions and uniqueness, because if go into this wanting a rattling plot then you’ll probably be disappointed.