Title: Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Page Count: 387
Publication Date: 2011
Category/Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.04)
My Rating: ★★★★★(4.5)
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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
This is one of those books that took my breathe away with captivating descriptions creating stunning visuals. Morgenstern’s writing is lyrical and evocative. It is seductive, enticing all of your senses (including smell!) and encapsulating your emotions. It is as if she painstakingly plucked out the images from her imagination, replanted and harvested them in my own. It is no less than magical, which is appropriate considering the backdrop and premise of the novel.
This is a fantasy novel about a magical and incredibly mysterious Victorian circus that appears and disappears around the world without much if any, warning. It only operates in the deepest hours of the night. It is here, under the big top tents that we experience and are swept away by some of the most beautiful and dreamlike fantasy worlds imaginable. Tent after tent, exhibit after exhibit, show after show is a dazzling display of enchantment and spellbinding theatrics.
It is also here, that two master magicians pit their proteges, Marco and Celia, in a battle to the death — sort of. Don’t get confused, this is not a violent 1:1 duel that takes place in an arena like gladiators. This is a gorgeous slow paced, call and response challenge that spans years. With their identities and rules hidden, each must create the most spectacular magical attractions as they one-up each other until one will eventually die from sheer exhaustion.
It all started with a challenge 30 years before with the two masters, simmering with revenge and rivalry. The plot chain seems to be a bit loose in the beginning and is a slow reveal, but as Morgenstern weaves the story everything falls into place perfectly.
However, I would say that the entire story is centered around the circus more than the duel or characters themselves. The circus is the focal point, as a place of wonder and reminds us of our dreams, kindles the imagination, gives a chance to experience childlike wonderment and become enchanted once again, if only for but a short time.
In our often hectic, chaotic or mundane lives, places and experiences such as the attractions in the Night Circus are special. They rarely exist in the world. It gives us a chance to experience the magic, to marvel at its impossibility and be swept away in its atmosphere.
“There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
The reader is pulled along in a dreamlike journey and just like the circus itself you really need to experience this book to appreciate it and let it into your heart. We will all experience and be touched by each of the attractions differently. One thing might pull on your heartstrings while another might keep you bubbling with laughter. I personally want to play in the vertical cloud maze but more than anything, I want the magic to linger just a little longer.
I would love to see Tim Burton adapt and reimagine this novel. I can’t imagine what kind of world he could present visually based on the majestic and intoxicating worlds Morgenstern has created.
If you believe in magic, you will certainly find it not just in the words and confines of the pages, but in your heart and your imagination. Le cirque des rêves– the circus of dreams.