Books, Art, & Visual Culture


Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
— Erin Morgenstern, "The Night Circus"

So I’ve read some very mixed reviews of this book. There are quite a few people who really seem to loathe it with a fairly fierce type of loathing. I am not one of these. I loved Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Well, I really really liked it. It seems that all the things that I liked about it are what other people find tedious and irritating, from the elaborate descriptions, to the subtle nature of the magical challenge taking place, to the setting of the circus itself. I found the whole thing a breath of fresh air. I will warn you now though: this book is very…well, pretty. Charming. Delightful. Whimsical. If that all sounds very twee to you, definitely don’t go near it.

The Night Circus is a sparkling, frothy confection of magic and, if not mystery, at least some shadowy allure, for effect. I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of such fantastical settings. Far from feeling that they ruined my ability to imagine things for myself, I found them to be like looking at a lovely painting, imaging myself in the scene. Reading this book brought to mind the joy I had as a child, of reading books filled with magic that was often quite ridiculous (I’m looking at you, Magic Faraway Tree!). But it never mattered — it was all so wondrous that you just wanted to be there. The Night Circus is not a deep book and it didn’t give me any important thoughts to mull over when I was done. It really did make me feel good though.