Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Night Circus


The circus arrives without warning.

When The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, was released last year, I knew I had to read it.
It sounded like a delicious read.
Yes, delicious.


When Celia is little, her father, Prospero the Enchanter, offers her as his champion in a duel of sorts against another magician. Of course, Celia doesn't know this, but Prospero teaches her how to control her intense magical powers all the same. He is not the kindest of fathers; in fact he is rather cruel to his only daughter.
The other magician, known only as Mr. A. H---, adopts a boy from an orphanage to be his champion. The boy, who takes the name of Marco, is shut up indoors for years, with only books as his companions. He learns the arts of illusion just as well as Celia, only in a different manner.
Eventually, the two of them, Marco knowing that Celia exists only as his opponent, but Celia not knowing, become involved with a great endeavour of entertainment that becomes known as Le Cirque de Reveurs, or The Circus of Dreams. Of course, only Celia and Marco have truly magical powers, but the circus-goers are only too willing to see it all as fantastic feats of illusion.
While the years go on, Celia and Marco gradually fall in love.
Their duel can only end when one of them dies.


The descriptions on the book jacket promise a lot more action than you really get in the book.
A lot.
I can't emphasize this enough, because I know many readers were disappointed.
I, however, was not.

Honestly, I wish I'd written this book.
The descriptions of the completely black and white circus are gorgeous, almost Gothic.
Erin Morgenstern's prose is wonderful.
She crafts a story that jumps around in time, but always stays completely centered on the one thing that holds all the timelines together -- the circus.
Of course, the story being set at the height of the Victorian Era was a selling point for me.

Maybe the plot isn't the strongest I've ever read.
But I don't think that matters, because this is a book about a place of dreams.
Dreams jump around, they sometimes don't make sense, and sometimes they are insistently strong.
Morgenstern's storytelling and masterfully lavish descriptions of everything are incredible.

Sometimes the point is in the storytelling.
I, for one, wish I could visit Le Cirque de Reveurs and never leave.

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