Ever have those books that you can’t describe? One of those stories that just swallows you up, heart and soul, but for the life of you, you just cannot describe it properly enough to give it justice?
Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is that book for me.
The book has already been out for a little over three years, but it still seems brand new. I had thought the premise was interesting when it had first been published, if only because the author had written it due to NaNoWriMo. It was exciting to know a fellow NaNoer had broken into the publishing industry and, although I don’t know her personally, I was proud of her success. After the book was published (like, months after, maybe a year later), one of my old friends had thrust her copy of the novel into my hands, demanding that I read it.
Come to think of it, she couldn’t really give me a good, proper description of it either.
I devoured the book. I could not – did not want – to put the novel down. I had other borrowed books, most of them from Rachel’s old boyfriend (who was very confused as to why it took me years to read his borrowed books, but mere days to read The Night Circus, and all Rachel could say was that, while his books were good, they were not as soul-sucking as The Night Circus was for me), but they were abandoned in favor the Morgenstern’s masterpiece.
Alas, I eventually had to return the book, and I had no idea what to do with my time for a while after finishing the story. Eventually, despite feeling as if I had lost a very dear friend, I had moved on with my life for the next two years. Until this past Christmas season, that is.
About half of my Christmas wish list consisted of books, and one of the latest additions to the list was The Night Circus. I don’t know what prompted me to think of the story again, but it wasn’t a thought I pondered about for long. It was a welcome present and, despite the other dozen or so books that I have unread on my bookshelf, The Night Circus was the first book I began to read after the holidays wound down.
My mother asked me recently what The Night Circus was about, and I was stumped. “Magic,” was the first word that popped into my head, then came the not-so-brilliant, “It’s about a circus that’s only opened at night.” Seriously, duh. I started to ramble. “There’s a love story beneath it all, it’s really about a competition between these two magicians, but they didn’t enter the competition themselves, and they use all sorts of magic to help create and maintain this circus. The circus isn’t a typical three-ring affair with lion tamers and acrobats, but filled with many sorts of tents, like one created entirely of ice and a pool where you throw stones to get rid of those weights of the world on your shoulder…”
That’s really all I remember. My mom began to just give me a smile, one of those amusing kinds of smiles that said she was humoring me and enjoying the fact that I loved the book so much.
The Night Circus is one of those stories where you have to read it several times. The first time you plow through the pages and chapters, eagerly getting to the end just to see what happens because you’ll die if you don’t find out right. Now. The second (and the third and the forth and so on) time you read it, you taste it slowly, relishing the small bites, the intricate details you missed on your first flight through the words. It’s an amazing bookshelf addition for everyone who enjoys a world with magic, a bit of romance, and just the fantastical blending beautifully with people.
I hope everyone out there has a book that they cannot properly describe.