Written by Erin Morgenstern
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This book is pure magic.
I do not use that word lightly, nor often. It is magic, and not because of the magic in the book. Erin Morgenstern is an illusionist with her words, painting beautiful images that I not only see but also feel.
I loved the pieces written in second person throughout. I felt as if I were experiencing the circus myself. What a beautiful way to start the book and a great theme to keep throughout.
The third person narrative was more distant than the first person I’m used to in YA, but Erin used it well, showing us so many different characters. I felt like I got to know everyone, even the smaller characters that popped up once every few hundred pages.
The circus itself was breathtaking. I won’t attempt to try to convey the beauty of it here—I feel it would not do it justice. I felt and saw the magic of it. I also thought the touch of real magic was perfect and well-done. Everything weaved together so seamlessly, and I loved that the reader jumped from characters who performed magic to characters who merely knew about magic to muggles. I felt like an omniscient observer who could read minds.
Erin is a master of showing. There were so many things she would just show us without giving us the direct link, and after a moment of thought, I would gasp when I realized what it meant. Who was going to die. Who Erin was talking about even though the character didn’t know, or she didn’t explicitly tell us.
What a delightful, intoxicating read. Enchanting, just like its characters, both metaphorically and literally. I didn’t want it to end. I was thankful that this book was so long, and after 200, 300 pages, I was relieved that there was still so much to go.
Celia and Marco fit perfectly together. They just make so much sense: they both perform magic, they are connected by the game, they express their love and lust through touch, words, and illusions. When they add to each other’s magical feats, it somehow feels right. When they touch, there are sparks, literally. Every time they exchanged banter, I felt butterflies at their romance but also despair at their fate. I couldn’t stop thinking about how they would have never met if it weren’t for this game that also doomed them from the start.
I loved that toward the end, we shifted between two days, back and forth, and experienced it from different characters. It amped up the suspense while giving us a satisfying, complete picture.
And that last chapter. That last line. The way it was all connected to the beginning, bringing it full circle. *muah* Perfection.
I loved every moment of this read. I almost feel like I’ve been to the circus myself…and I guess, well, I have. And I am a rȇveur through and through.
Some inspiring quotes from the book about writing and storytelling:
I find I think of myself not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus. To visit the circus again, if only in their minds, when they are unable to attend it physically. I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will. When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn’t it?
Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.
Time has altered and condensed their nuances, made them more than story, greater than the sums of their parts. But that requires time. The truest tales require time and familiarity to become what they are.
Someone needs to tell those tales…There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict…You may tell a tale that takes up resident 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…There are many kinds of magic, after all.