The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Magical Realism
Synopsis: 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.
Favorite Line: "The circus arrives without warning."
It's the first line and it's perfect for setting the novel's tone. Other first lines are getting jealous.
My Review: Magical from start to finish to start again. Fair warning: the nonlinear timeline may be disorienting at first, especially since most of the characters are involved in past and present events. One timeline begins before the circus is created, with Celia, a young and magically gifted child about to begin her training. The other starts after the circus has been established. Each chapter begins with a date and location to help clarify when and where you are. Though after a few jumps back and forth it, I felt it became immediately apparent which one I was reading. They grow closer and closer in time until they converge and bring the whole plot together. It is done very well and makes the climax all the more intense.
There are also several short sections written in second person. They take you through the experience of Le Cirque des Rêves. They add nothing to the plot development but show the circus, the way the visitors see it. Each description is very short, about a page or two. It is important to understand the circus as it is the main character of the story.
Le Cirque des Rêves wove itself into my days and nights. I craved caramel-dipped apples and hot chocolate. It's probably the reason I'm so eager for Autumn. I watched Water for Elephants and had dreams where I was surrounded by roaring tigers while trapeze artists tossed each other through the air above me with no safety net between us. I found the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge and listened to it in my car. I don't know if everyone would agree with the Moulin Rouge-Night Circus connection, but when I read about the planning of the circus I couldn't help remembering the scene in Moulin Rouge where they plan out the show. Then I had that song stuck in my head for days, "Spectacular, spectacular. No words in the vernacular can describe this great event. You'll be dumb with wonderment."
Like Moulin Rouge, the love between Marco and Celia is riddled with complications. The star-crossed lovers are bound by magical agreement to compete against each other and finish the game while keeping their love and contest hidden. They cannot quit or surrender and live happily ever after. Magical contracts are cruel like that. Think Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he had no choice but to fulfill the agreement.
Recommendation: Great for anyone who loves a little magic in their stories.
For Next Week: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn