The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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.
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.
But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.
Both playful and seductive, “The Night Circus”, Erin Morgenstern's spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This book is a slow simmer. It takes patience, you should know what you’re going into and suspend disbelief for a while. Much like the circus’ name, the book is utterly dreamlike, exploring vivid imagery for the sake of the enjoyment, not because it necessarily moves the story along. I found the story utterly captivating and thought of it constantly when I wasn’t actively reading the book. I kept wondering what the complexities were going to reveal and how it would be possible to work out.
I agree with some other reviews, this isn’t a book that is character driven, so some readers may find that frustrating. Instead, a lot of characters are thrust into a cycle that is not of their choosing for ends unknown and the book takes its time revealing the layers. Although it normally bothers me, the book ends with a lot of things unfinished and unrevealed and somehow that worked for me. It does, however, make me want to reread it sometime in the future to see if I can catch some of the subtleties I missed. I would definitely recommend this one for anyone looking for an escape from the real world.
Warning: Contains violence.
Rating: 5 stars!
Who should read it? Anyone looking for a whimsical escape from the real world and vivid imagery.