“The circus arrives without warning.”
So begins Erin Morgenstern’s lushly descriptive, beautifully written novel, The Night Circus. The circus is an experience like no other. It opens at nightfall and closes at dawn. The food tastes better than food eaten elsewhere. The smell of caramel and apples permeates the air. The circus and its performers are dressed entirely in black, white, and silver. This background that fills the senses and maintains an air of mystery only adds to the amazing performances and tents contained within the circus. No one ever forgets their time at Le Cirque des Rêves.
The circus is not simply a masterful and magical place of entertainment for its patrons. It is also the venue for a competition between Celia and Marco, two young illusionists trained by their masters to participate in a “game,” using the circus to demonstrate their skills and imaginations. Celia and Marco have been bound to this “game” by their masters, and the winner is the last person left standing. The two competitors were chosen to compliment and contrast each other, but they are too well matched, and their tale becomes that of star-crossed lovers.
The real treat of this book is the descriptions of the circus. While the characters are compelling, the circus itself is so richly and lovingly described that it is an intense pleasure to read about some of the circus acts and attractions created by Ms. Morgenstern’s characters as part of their competition.
If you’re waiting for a copy of The Night Circus:
For another imaginative, dark story of historical fiction and magic, try Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
An even darker, though atmospheric and ornately told story of love and violence set in the 19th century that might appeal to people who enjoy The Night Circus is Under the Poppy.