Book Review: Celebrate National Novel Writing Month with Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Published by Doubleday, 2011.

Happy National Novel Writing Month! Even though writing can be a fun form of self-expression for kids, teens, and adults, motivating yourself to write can often be challenging. Novels in particular require a great deal of self-motivation over a long period of time. Since 1999, the organization and movement known as “National Novel Writing Month” has encouraged amateur and professional writers to push themselves. Anyone can participate in NaNoWriMo, which asks participants to write a 50,000 word manuscript in a single month, between November 1 and November 30. That means an average of 1,667 words per day! NaNoWriMo helps writers across the country and beyond by providing “pep talks” from professional authors, and meet ups in real life so that writers can take a break from this solitary pursuit.

Erin Morgenstern’s novel The Night Circus, in her own words: “began life as a surprise tangent in NaNovel ’05 and was very roughly, sprawlingly drafted during NaNo ’06 & ’07.” (Read the rest in her pep talk). For this reason, the book can serve as inspiration for teen and adult writers going through the exact same struggle.

Le Cirque des Rêves, or the “circus of dreams,” is a magical, fairy tale-like extravaganza which appears without any warning and is open only from sunset to sunrise. The enchanting wonders of the circus quickly attracts an avid following, who call themselves “rêveurs” and can be recognized by the red scarves they wear to match the black and red colors of the circus. The plot of the novel follows two young magicians, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, as they compete against one another in a mysterious game.

The Night Circus is the perfect autumn read for other reasons other than the author’s connections to NaNoWriMo. The Night Circus is a highly sensory and descriptive novel with a strong focus on setting. The setting happens to be decidedly autumnal; the characters are frequently indulging in the caramel apples and apple cider which can be purchased at Le Cirque des Rêves, as they take in the unusual sights in the crisp fall air. Many teen readers will be swept away by the romance of this fantasy novel, and still others may use it as inspiration for their literary pursuits.

Emily Butler
Emily has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. She currently works as a Research Librarian at Deerfield Academy, an independent boarding and day school. She has a strong passion for both academic and creative writing, which she enjoys sharing with students. You can find more of her book reviews in School Library Journal.

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