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By Lydia Knowles
I can’t even think about Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus without getting chills. It’s a book that gets into your bones and makes a home there. Once you’ve read it, you are different; changed by beauty and mystery in the way most beautiful literature does.
I want to tell you as little as possible while at the same time convincing you wholeheartedly that your life will be better – different – for reading this book. Too much detail would ruin it; like seeing a baker create a cake from scratch. Yes, while there is a certain honorable appreciation to seeing something creating out of nothing, sometimes the most magical things show up in front of you with explanation, just like the circus, which appears without warning.
While this book has all of the important elements necessary for a truly great fairy tale for adults, the true magic of the book comes from the wisdom shared in dialogue and introspective thoughts of the character’s. The Night Circus is an extraordinary story not just because of the awe-inspiring circus features – the room with stairs to the clouds; the twins born with the ability to see past and future – but because it shows us that sometimes the most human out of us are the most magical.
“Taking his time, as though he has all of it in the world, in the universe, from the days when tales meant more than they do now, but perhaps less than they will someday, he draws a breath that releases the tangled knot of words in his heart, and they fall from his lips effortlessly.”
“The circus arrives without warning.”
“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”
“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. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
“I am tired of trying to hold things together that cannot be held. Trying to control what cannot be controlled. I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix. They will break no matter what we do.”
“Celia.” he says without looking up at her, “why do we wind our watch?”
“Because everything requires energy,” she recites obediently, eyes still focused on her hand. “We must put effort and energy into anything we wish to change.”
“Wine is bottled poetry, he thinks.”
“Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”
“Do you remember all of your audiences?” Marco asks. “Not all of them,” Celia says. “But I remember the people who look at me the way you do.”
“What way might that be?”
“As though they cannot decide if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me.”
“I am not afraid of you,” Marco says.”
“Magic,” the man in the grey suit repeats, turning the word into a laugh. “This is not magic. This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it. Look around you,” he says, waving a hand at the surrounding tables. “Not a one of them even has an inkling of the things that are possible in this world, and what’s worse is that none of them would listen if you attempted to enlighten them. They want to believe that magic is nothing but clever deception, because to think it real would keep them up at night, afraid of their own existence.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong being a dreamer.”
“He reads histories and mythologies and fairy tales, wondering why it seems that only girls are ever swept away from their mundane lives on farms by knights or princes or wolves. It strikes him as unfair to not have the same fanciful opportunity himself. And he is not in the position to do any rescuing of his own.”
“And before he can tell her to tell Widget goodbye for him if need be, she leans forward and kisses him, not on the cheek, as she has a handful of times before, but on the lips, and Bailey knows in that moment that he will follow her anywhere.”
“A woman I should like to think I know rather well and a woman I had always considered a mystery, are in fact the same person.”
“You’re not destined or chosen, I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it’s not true. You’re in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s enough.”