The Night Circus

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. 

When I started reading this book, I was in a somewhat critical frame of mind. I knew people who raved about it, and had read reviews which hammered it. It seemed like there was an awful lot of telling going on, and not a lot of showing. However, I was intrigued, and I found myself reading on, being captured by the book until it consumed me.

I think the blurb for the book is a little misleading. So it’s lucky that I didn’t read it before hand. The game between Celia and Marco is hardly fierce. It is a duel, but they know so little about it, that there is no sense of impending doom about it, until much later in the novel when it’s revealed to the characters that only the winner will survive – and even then, if you’ve read the blurb, you know this already, which takes some of the tension out of the situation.

The Night Circus is a subtle novel that weaves together three story lines, spread over three different time periods. It took me a little bit of back and forth to figure it out, but once you get into the rhythm, find your connections with the characters in each time, it’s very easy to keep things straight. One of the most interesting things about this book is that one of the characters is YOU. Yes, that’s right, one thread is told in second person. It’s done so well that I felt like I could have been there, seeing it all – not only does it make you see the circus as a character itself, but the tents which you find yourself drawn to are used to highlight things that are occurring in the other story lines.

I thought the characters were beautifully drawn. I loved them all, even the secondary ones, and really appreciated the subtle touch that Morgenstern writes with. Celia and Marco have two completely different approaches to magic, and yet they find this connection to each other and build on that throughout the novel. This is a beautiful, luscious love story, which I would happily immerse myself into again. This isn’t romance, but love, painted in images and actions, rather than thoughts and words spoken by characters.

I love the Night Circus. I want to go. You would find me dressed in black and white, a red rose in my hair, or perhaps red gloves and scarf, if the night were cold. I would be one of the Reveurs in a heartbeat. Read it. Push past the initial telling, and let Morgenstern draw you into the world of the circus. You won’t regret it.

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