Magical Realism at its quietest best

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 

From its opening lines, “The circus arrives without warning […] Opens at Nightfall / Closes at Dawn”, this book and the story within it is an enticing prospect. Circuses are magical places in any normal world. Like travelling fairgrounds they arrive over night and leave just as suddenly. For a time, they exist side-by-side real life like a village has just turned up on your doorstep. This is a magical, fairytale tale which does just that; turns up at various locations around the world and then disappear just as suddenly. But it’s our world that this takes place in and you can get the feeling that these things are happening with a magic realism twist.

Celia is an illusionist, and daughter of Propero the magician. Marco is also an illusionist. The two have never met but are set against each other in a ‘challenge’ with either no, or ever-changing/fluid, rules, and with little idea of what will happen.

After the intriguing start that lures you in and takes hold of you, the middle section does meander slowly. It is a a book that is written deftly, with much narrative description, and is very much what I call a ‘quiet novel’. Get past that slow middle section then and you will be rewarded with an end to satisfy you. Throughout it seems that the challenge must only have one victor, but when the competing pair fall in love, how can fate be defeated…?