The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 1, Chapters 7-9 Summary

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It is 1884, and Celia is sixteen years old. Prospero the Enchanter has retired from stage performance. Instead, he hires out his daughter as a spiritual medium. Celia hates this job. But her father, Hector (Prospero), believes it is a good way for them to make money. They perform tricks and make their customers believe they are talking to loved ones who have died. Celia says the whole scheme is a hoax, and her father agrees. But Hector reminds Celia that she is preparing herself for the challenge. He has no specific details as to who the challenger is or when the contest will begin, but he insists that Celia concentrate and improve her skills. To make her study harder, her father breaks her wrist. This causes a lot of pain, and it takes Celia an hour to reconstruct her bones. Later, Celia goes to her father’s room. She sees him doing something he has never done before. He makes his hand disappear. When she asks him why he is doing this, Hector slams the door in her face.

Meanwhile, Isobel has moved in with Marco. He is teaching her simple magic tricks, which she is having trouble mastering. While they are both practicing their skills, there is a knock on the door. Marco knows instantly that the man at the door is Alexander, who adopted and is training him. In his usual unaffected manner, Alexander tells Marco that he is to apply for a position with a Mr. Lefevre. Marco should do what is necessary to ensure he gets the job. Mr. Lefevre will, in some undisclosed way, have something to do with the challenge in which Marco will be involved. Chandresh Lefevre is a theatrical producer. He is always searching for shows that are fresh, alluring, and spectacular. Marco has no trouble becoming Lefevre’s assistant.

The story jumps ahead, though no date is given. The reader is presented with a preview of the circus that Lefevre will eventually produce with Marco’s and Celia’s help. Sometime in the future, at the entrance to the circus, there is a beautiful clock. The clock, like everything else in the circus, is painted black and white. The mechanics of the clock mesmerize the people who stare at it as they wait to buy their tickets.

Once people pay for their admission, they pass through a slit in a heavy, striped curtain. When inside, they are thrown into pitch darkness. Their eyes slowly adjust to the blackness, and they see only tiny pin dots of light that look like distant stars. The patrons had been together in a group, but in the darkness they can tell they are now alone. They must find their way through a very dark, maze-like tunnel. It is so dark they cannot tell what direction they are going or how long they have been in the tunnel. With hands out in front of them, they finally come to a velvet curtain that is soft to the touch. When they pass through the opening in this curtain, they are blinded by light.

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Part 1, Chapters 4-6 Summary

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Part 1, Chapters 10-11 Summary