Review: The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern

Read: 98
To Go: 2

Book List:
91. The Sailor on the Seas of Fate — Michael Moorcock
92. The Weird of the White Wolf — Michael Moorcock
93. The Vanishing Tower — Michael Moorcock
94. The Bane of the Black Sword — Michael Moorcock
95. Stormbringer — Michael Moorcock
96. Nine Dragons — Michael Connelly
97. The Last Crossing — Guy Vanderhaeghe
98. The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern

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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 experience, 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 Reves.

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 rooms 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.

I’ve actually owned The Night Circus for over a year now — my sister so kindly bought it for me for Christmas, and its size intimidated me, so I put it on my shelf and left it for a while. And then I got new books that I wanted to read immediately, so I put it off further, until it came to the end of the year and I still hadn’t read it. I finally did yesterday, and it blew me away.

In a word, The Night Circus was mesmerizing. The novel followed Celia and Marco from childhood, training vigorously for a challenge they didn’t understand, to when they joined the circus and started manipulating and adding to it. Small interludes were sprinkled throughout, which were written to make the reader feel like they were actually at the circus. Between the two elements, it created a compelling, un-put-downable book. I am definitely in love with it, and I think it may be a last-minute addition to my “top 10” list for this year.

Next book: A Thousand Farewells by Nahlah Ayed.

– Kelsey

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