Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Anchor
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 512
Genre: Fantasy
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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Review:  The Night Circus is like nothing I have ever read before.  Magical, ethereal, and amazing in every sense of the word.  It has earned its place in that little corner of my heart that holds all of my favorite books.  

The best part is definitely the ambiance!  It is absolutely enchanting, written in such a way that really makes you feel like you are actually at Les Cirque des Rêves.  Not only is it very descriptive, but it is beautifully written.  I would describe the writing style as: mysterious, captivating, lyrical.  The words flow beautifully, like music.  The story sucks you in and does not let go, not for anything.  It makes you miss a place you have never been and never will go, because it truly feels as if you have been to that magical circus and would die to visit it again.  

The synopsis is misleading, however.  This is in no way a romance.  There is certainly love, yes, but if you want a tale focused on love, this isn't it.  This novel is about the circus, not the people.  It is written in third person omniscient.  It does not focus on the characters or the relationships, but on the breathtaking magic of the setting.  The intent is not to adore the characters, but to fall head over heels with the circus itself.  And  Le Cirque des Rêves is in no way a typical circus, full of those horrid orange peanut candy things and weird clowns.  It is a wonderful place where real magic is passed as an illusion.  I love all the different tents, which are all so unique.  There's the Ice Garden, the Illusionist, the Wishing Tree, just to name a few.

The Night Circus is not an action packed thriller, nor a death defying duel of magic.  There is nothing violent or gory, but there are parts designed to be eerie and sinister, which I really like.  It spans over a time frame of decades.  You have to be patient.  This is a book written to appreciate every word and wonder.  Read it slowly, don't just rush through it.  The plot starts so loosely that you don't see until the end how everything comes together.  Everything is intertwined somehow, all the different characters and their stories.  You fall in love so gradually, that looking back, you aren't sure exactly when you knew you were attached.  It is a subtle story, one that is achingly beautiful.  It is bittersweet and stunning.   

The one issue I have with this book is that I feel slightly disconnected from the characters.  There is so much focus on the circus that I feel you lose some of your understanding of the characters.  Celia is strong and clever and quite a talented magician, if you can call her that.  I really enjoy her tale. Marco, however, I like less.  I never quite trusted him.  Sure, he is intelligent and even kind, in his own way.  But I have a feeling that if he were a Harry Potter character, he would be a Slytherin. Tsukiko is probably the most intriguing.  I don't even know what to say about her besides the fact that she is ambiguous and interesting.  Bailey is the sweet one, all endearing and gentle.  Plus, he is a genius.  His relationship with the twins, Poppet and Widget, is lovely.  I also really like the clock maker, I think he is one of the kindest, most honest characters I have ever had the pleasure to read about.  The mentors to Celia and Marco, though, are extremely unpleasant.  Celia's mentor and father is downright terrible.  Marco's mentor, Alexander, is nicer and more understandable, but I can't say I like him, exactly.

Over all, The Night Circus is a remarkable tale and masterfully written.  It stays with you long after you've closed the book and left it to collect dust on your shelf.  It makes me hope magic really exists and leaves me wondering when the circus will come to town.  Unforgettable. 

4.5 Keys


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