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Fashion Book: The Night Circus

2011 September 22

 The Night Circus is Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, and it is magnificent. Even the one sentence summary of the book is enough to sell it–it’s a book about a mysterious circus (Le Cirque des Rêves–The Circus of Dreams) that appears with no announcements or warning, is only open from dusk to dawn, and is the setting for a battle between two magicians–who happen to be in love with each other. Who wouldn’t want to read that book?

Though the battle between Celia, the circus’s beautiful illusionist, and Marco, the dark man behind the scenes, is fascinating, it’s Morgenstern’s descriptions of the world of the circus that are my favorite parts of the book. Each scene is rendered in stunningly sharp detail–the crisp air, the scent of smoke and caramel apples in the air, the looming black and white striped tents, the twinkles of wispy lights, the crackling bonfire. It is so evocative of autumn and Halloween that even when I’m reading it on a hot, crowded subway train in New York City, my mind thinks I’m wrapped in a cable sweater, crunching through leaves, drinking hot apple cider.

Each tent at the circus contains different marvels, and the description of these are fantastic as well–one tent contains a cloud maze, another a contortionist covered in intricate tattoos who can bend her body at impossible angles, another a garden composed entirely of glistening white ice, and another filled with tiny bottles of memories (evoked by smell, of course). Of course, any circus isn’t complete without food–do not read this book when hungry. Chocolates, cider, caramels, and other wonderfully lush confections are just as present as the sights and smells of the circus.

Even as the book winds down this delightful path of wonder and whimsy, the somewhat sinister undertones of the circus and the characters who inhabit it are always clear. It’s that creepiness, that haunting darkness that bring an edge to the book, one that ultimately saves it from being just another fantasy novel.

The look below was inspired by Celia, the circus illusionist whose uniform for each performance is always a gown of black and white (the circus colors) with a top hat of black silk, and a silver ring of some significance. I added the pops of red to signify the true fans of the circus, who distinguish themselves by wearing red scarves.


The Night Circus

7 Responses Post a comment
  1. September 23, 2011

    I’ve heard so much buzz about this book, but was suspicious that it might just be hype. I may have to add it to my reading list since it sounds like it’s actually good.

    • Jill permalink
      September 23, 2011

      It’s definitely enjoyable, especially if you like magic and fantasy worlds. It’s even well-written!

      • October 24, 2011

        This. The book is incredibly well crafted. I think my favorite part is the author’s use of repetition to echo the circle theme (circus theme?).

  2. Jeanne permalink
    September 23, 2011

    I loved The Night Circus too…although I was a bit more interested in Poppet/Widget/Bailey’s storyline than Celia & Marco’s. Good job bringing Celia’s performance-wear to life – I love the clutch!

    • Jill permalink
      September 23, 2011

      Oh, I agree actually–I found myself more interested in the P/W/B story as well!

  3. October 6, 2011

    I must read this book now. And also, those red shoes are CRAZY.

  4. kiana permalink
    July 19, 2012

    I just finished The Night Circus and I am now creating a dress inspired by one of Celia Bowens dresses in the book.

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