The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “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 throughout 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 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.”
Dreamy, fantastical, magical, and mysterious are just a few words I would use to describe this book. I definitely got caught up in the fantasy and enjoyed this book. Ms. Morgenstern’s character development is really good and I felt like I knew the characters very well. I especially liked Celia and Marco. I didn’t particularly like Hector or Alexander, but I loved the Burgess twins and Herr Thiesson. I also loved Poppet and Widget. I could not believe how Hector and Alexander treated their “children,” and it made me sick. I loved the role that each person played and thought it fit perfectly. I loved the circus and wish there was something like that for us today. I would love to see the wishing tree, the labyrinth, the cloud maze, and I would love to smell the smells and see the sparkling lights. I would also love to see the illusionist’s show. I don’t know if I would be a follower, but I’d for sure go if it came to my city. I felt so bad for Celia and Marco and hoped they could figure something out. I’d also really like to see that clock!
The flow of the book confused me sometimes and the timing was even more confusing. There were chapters that would go backwards in time. I had to go back to the beginning of chapters several times to make sure I knew where I was in the time frame. I thought it made the flow quite choppy and a little confusing. There was some language in this book, and there is an “intimate” scene. There is also the death of a character.
Overall, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it with the previous warnings. It is very different and fun, with a hint of mystery and magic.
Rating: PG-13+ (Language, “physical intimacy,” and the death of a character)
Recommendation: 18 years-old and up. As always, I recommend that parents read it first to make sure it is appropriate for their child. Each child is different and has different tolerance levels.