Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Doubleday (ARC)
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
The story is told in alternating points of view and times, in the third person present tense. The scattered scenes work together seamlessly to add both knowledge and mystery, without causing the sort of confusion that makes a story difficult to follow. The pacing is perfect. The setting is grandiose. The prose is lush, magical, and dreamlike. The imagery of the circus is delightful, engrossing, and easily imagined by the descriptions. The world building surrounding the circus is incredibly well done, hitting on all of the senses and doing an amazing job of creating an atmosphere.
While The Night Circus follows several characters who are involved with the circus, the story centers around Celia and Marco, two magicians pitted against each other in a mysterious duel. The cast of characters surrounding Le Cirque des Rêves is as unique as the circus itself. They range from architects and clock makers to dreamers and ballerinas to illusionists and contortionists. The circus is the catalyst for the relationships that develop between them. It connects them. And by the time that I was finished with the book, I had become connected to them as well.
The Night Circus had me engrossed in the story and characters, and especially the setting. I read it slowly, not because I was disinterested, but because I did not want it to end. I savored every word, and would recommend it to anyone, particularly those who find appealing the idea of crawling into this dream of a circus for a little while.