Tag Archives: Erin Morgenstern

Bedtime Stories: The Night Circus

thenightcircusPost by Mark T. Locker.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

In 19th-century London, there are two magicians. Not sleight of hand magicians, pulling rabbits out of hats and such, but real magicians, manipulating the elements and perception. One goes by the name of Prospero the Enchanter. The other, simply Mr. A.H.- These two play a terrible kind of game of ego, finding children of magical promise, training them, and pitting them against each other in an awful competition to see who can raise the greatest magician. Prospero has already chosen a competitor: his young daughter, Celia. In response, A.H.- finds a child at the orphanage. He doesn’t bother to name the boy, but years later the boy takes the name Marco.

After years of arduous and often cruel magical training, the competition is to begin. The venue? A brand new circus is created, a magical circus that tours the world, and opens only at night. The Cirque des Rêves (Circus of Dreams) is appropriately dark, mysterious, and mystifying. Marco manages the circus from afar, quietly adding new tents showing of his magical mastery. Celia has her own show as the Illusionist. Although Marco immediately realizes that Celia is his competitor, she has no idea who she is playing against, though the recognizes his magical work.

There are a few parallel stories also being told: the German clockmaker who created the incredible (but somehow not magical) clock that sits at the entrance to the circus; the young boy in Massachusetts who sneaks in during the day on a dare; and the redheaded twins of remarkable power, Widget and Poppet, that the boy meets when he sneaks in. All the narratives weave together into a compelling tapestry.

The Night Circus is an enchanting, mysterious and at times amusing story, full of twisty paths and dead ends, much like the circus itself. If you are looking for a story to captivate you and to fill your dreams, what better place to turn than the Cirque des Rêves?

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Bedtime Stories: A Little Magic for Grown-Ups

Post by Mark T. Locker.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Ever since J.K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter, adults have been regularly usurping children’s and young adult literature for their own enjoyment, especially the bottomless pit of fantasy and sci-fi fiction series. Well, once in a while a book comes along for adults which will satisfy the puerile thirst for magic and escape from the realm of the ordinary, and you get to do so under the guise of proper grown-up literature and look all fancy on the bus. (The spine label even reads “Fiction” not “Horror” or “Romance”!)

The most recent of these that I have come across is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus. It is, as you may guess, about a nocturnal circus, but it is also about so much more. It’s about rival magicians raising children to compete against each other in the showdown to end all showdowns. It’s about really cool clocks. And contortionists and twins with strange powers.

Set in the late nineteenth century, it is reminiscent of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is about Victorian gentlemanly English magicians. But it is also very much its own novel. It revolves around the worlds of a strange circus, and those within it and those outside it. It’s lovely to read, and gives you great stuff for dreams.

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