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.The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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.
The night circus had been on my tbr since I ventured into this world of book reviews and such. I had heard both good and bad reviews about it but ultimately I was very curious about the story and decided to give it a go.
This is a story that takes place in the Victorian era, and it’s about two schools of magic: one based on natural gifts for physical manipulation, the other based on years of study of ancient practices—charms and spells and such. These two schools of thought, each led by its master practitioner, have been dueling for decades (perhaps centuries) to determine which type of magic is better and stronger. This competition is done by each master selecting a student, training that student, and those students compete by displaying their magical abilities in exhibits at the Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams. This wandering magical circus rises only in the night and appears and disappears at various locations without warning, carrying with it an array of magically-inclined outcasts.
Celia is chosen as the competitor for her father, Prospero the Enchanter. Meanwhile, Mr. A.H. selects Marco, an orphan, to represent him. Very quickly, the two competing apprentices feel an attraction towards each other, knowing full well that they’ve been selected as rivals but not yet understanding the full extent of this competition.
Around Celia and Marco we are given a cast of people who come into their lives and are changed by knowing them. We never know how many people work and live within the circus or realize the extent of the magic that guides them. While I really liked the characters what made me truly fall in love with this story was the world and how Morgenstern’s beautiful writing completely transported me to it.
I found this book extraordinary, with so much thought put into the story – which unfolds like a carefully constructed maze. It was a true escape and not just entertainment. Morgenstern’s world is a dreamy and enchanted one, and the book devotes a lot of time to describing the many beautiful and varied exhibits and displays inside which makes you wish you could really be a part of it.
I think that for many people this is the type of book that captures their imagination. It’s not a book that asks you to think and create the magic, it merely wants to take you on this captivating ride through a carefully and whimsically built world.