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Secrets and stories in Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus”

Erin Morgenstern is a gifted, classic storyteller, a tale-teller, a spinner of the charmed and mesmerising, and she takes us on an amazing journey in her magical, enchanting and breathtaking novel, The Night Circus. Reading this novel is like having a marvelous dream, in which you are asleep enough to believe everything that is happening, but awake enough to relish the experience and understand that it is magical.

The Night Circus is the real deal, the kind of novel that will appeal to romantics, history buff, circus aficionados, mystery fans, and lovers of a good story. Steeped in circus lore, filled with evocative scenes of magic and illusion, enriched by characters as varied as the clockmaker who crafted the circus’s iconic timepiece. Morgenstern sweeps us away into another world and gives us a story worth staying up for.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus perÂ-­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Night Circus

I fell in love with this story instantly, and as soon as I heard about it I absolutely had to buy it – which is one of the best decisions I have made to date regarding books. It swept me into another world full of magic, mystery and wonder and I could not put it down. This knockout debut is so sparklingly alive, it felt as though the pages were genuinely breathing in my hands. The only real disappointment was that I couldn’t actually buy a ticket into the circus myself.

One of my favourite things about this incredible story, was the two main deeper messages that I felt Morgenstern was trying to teach her readers. The first, is that secrets have power. The second, is that there is an art, an importance, a magic, in telling stories.

There is no question that secrets hoard a kind of power. That’s why we have them – we learn from a young age that secrets play a big importance in our lives, for all kinds of reasons.

We keep secrets for numerous reasons, whether it is detrimental to a cause, an inability of the audience to handle that information, because we are ashamed or guilty about something, or just simply because she sheer thrill of knowing something no one else does. Either way, what Morgenstern reminds us of, is that these secrets have power.

“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” — Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

More than that, I love the way Morgenstern teaches people about how to craft a story, and reminds us that there is an art, an importance, a magic, in telling them.

In The Night Circus, she suggests what qualities make a great story which incldues blurring dueling ideas and stressing the importance of dreams and magic as inspirations to creating stories. In many ways, with it’s many thematic levels and unique characterisations, The Night Circus is really about the art of creating a story.

“It is important…Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.” — Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

Stories change people’s lives. When we tells someone a story, we have no idea that profound impact it can have on them. It can inspire them. Which, I guess, is what storytelling is all about. The Night Circus basically reminds us of the magic in books and telling stories. And, coming from a magical and enchanting story, is magical in itself.

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