“You tell stories?” the man asks, the piquing of his interest almost palpable.
“Stories, tales, bardic chronicles,” Widget says. “Whatever you care to call them. The things were discussing earlier that are more complicated than they used to be. I take pieces of the past that I see and I combine them into narratives. It’s not that important, and this isn’t why I’m here-”
“It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “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 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. 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.” He takes another sip of his wine. “There are many kinds of magic, after all.”
— The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. p.381 (hardback)
This was an interesting one. I’ve been playing Echo Bazaar for a long while now, and I’m always interested to know what Failbetter’s next project is. Last year, they released The Night Circus as a promotional game for the book of the same name. The game is filled with snippets from the book, and it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the magical world of Les Cirque Des Reves and the wonders of the circus.
When the book itself came out, I had to buy a copy. I didn’t get it immediately due to budget constraints, but when I did, I didn’t regret it. The book itself is gorgeous, emphasising the black and white themes of the story itself with crisp white pages edged in black, and a splash of red on the cover and the ribbon bookmark.
But enough about how I fell in love with the outside of the book.
The Night Circus tells an enchanting tale of a mysterious circus. It shows up unannounced, moving between towns without rhyme, reason or apparent schedule. Everything within the circus is black and white except for the patrons and the performers themselves. The circus is full of wonder, each tent revealing a new delight; impossible dreams made into reality.
Of course, it’s not just about the circus. A pair of long-lived rivals (one hesitates to call them magicians) have made another wager. Their new apprentices, trained in each other’s art and set against each other in a unique setting – The Night Circus. Created solely as a venue for the contest, the circus brings the two apprentices together as they begin to court each other by making new wonders in the circus for the other to admire. Rather than working against each other, they begin to work together and eventually manage to find a way to escape their fated end and secure the continuance of the circus once their contest is done.
I loved the story from the moment I started playing the game, and could barely put down the book once I had it. It was one of the most curious experiences I’ve ever had while reading: I simultaneously couldn’t wait to get to the next bit and find out what happened, but also couldn’t bear to miss something by reading too quickly.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the book, and I challenge you not to fall in love with it.