“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions in advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
By Erin Morgenstern
Published by Anchor Books, 2012
They say it is called Le Cirque des Rêves – The Circus of Dreams – and it must be. How could it not be, when it is only open at night? And although it lacks all physical color, with every magnificent tent, unique performer, delectable treat, and even the dirt under your feet clothed in swaths of swirling black, grey, and white, somehow it sparks the most colorful of emotions within you. Your imagination runs wild as you bear witness to the unimaginable, the purely unbelievable.
From the outside perspective – that is, yours – it is simply illusion. Beautiful, unprecedented, magical illusion, but nothing more than wonderful trickery at its heart. What you don’t realize is that, at the center of it all, two young magicians participate in a mysterious game where the rules are mostly unknown and the boundaries seem invisible. Trained for this since they were mere children, Celia and Marco know that there can only be one victor, but the cost of the game may prove to be more than they are willing to sacrifice. And as they slowly tumble into love and dangerous secrets, the lives of everyone – from the performers to the patrons – may prove to be interwoven in it all.
The Night Circus receives 11 out of 12 pages turned!
“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”
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The Night Circus has been recommended to me by a number of people, and I’m glad that I ultimately acted on their suggestions. This novel has been described in many ways – deliciously detailed, but agonizingly slow in plot movement; a beautiful love story, yet frustratingly nonexistent for the majority of the book. And while I concur in some measures with these comments, this was what I loved about the book: there is no YA book like it. In fact, I likely wouldn’t have considered it much of a Young Adult book at all due to the nature of most books in this genre these days. And by most YA books, I mean the fast-paced, completely and utterly unrealistic love stories born out of an adventure that magically develops the characters in a matter of minutes and supplies mostly-cheesy and cliché romance for teens to feel satisfied with the world. No, The Night Circus was different and because of that it was refreshing to read. It was purposefully and thoughtfully drawn out, developing a competition over years and not just a couple of days. The reader feels enveloped by the imagery and specificity of the author, so much so that they could almost be inside Le Cirque des Rêves if only they believed so. Because of this, the answers to all of the questions that the characters (and the readers as they go) have been asking for the entirety of the book are revealed bit by bit and so gradually that it feels realistic and suspenseful. There is a quality of magic, a trace of the unknown and the excitement that travels with it, that passes through the air while the reader is immersed in an unhurried love story that reflects real life in the midst of the utterly unreal. I’m not entirely certain whether I can truly explain it beyond that, but this I do know: I have never read anything so satisfactory in my life that left me, simultaneously, with so many unanswered questions. It was refreshing to have something that actually took time to develop rather than racing through the details (although I do admit that sometimes the plot and details were a bit too slow for my liking), and I will most certainly be keeping this novel on my shelf to read again.
Character Development: 2
Plot Movement: 1.5
Attention to Detail: 1.5
Writing Style/Voice: 2
Entertainment Factor: 4