Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing.
Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
Review: I've wanted to read this book for a while - a magical circus, a competition to the death, and a romance to unravel the entire thing? Yes please! I had really high expectations going into this book, and every single one of them was met.
First, we start out with this incredible cast of characters that just keeps growing and becoming more diverse and interesting. There's Celia and Marco, of course, who are just children when the novel begins. Their instructors are old men who have played games for centuries and are always trying to out-do each other, even if it costs a life... or several lives. Then, eventually, there are the people behind the circus who are just as strange and eccentric as the circus performers themselves. I loved all of them (especially the contortionist!), and I especially loved how connected every single person in this story is to one another.
I think part of the reason that I loved the characters so much was that Morgenstern introduces you to all different aspects of each of them. Most of the book is from either Celia's or Marco's perspectives, but we often get to see things from other people and other places. The tense changes as well, and although I thought the shifts in narrator and tense were often unexpected, I came to really look forward to seeing the circus from all of the different people.
My absolute favorite chapters though were the ones where an outside narrator is introducing the reader (or the circus goers) to all of the acts and nuances of Le Cirque des Reve. During these chapters, I felt like I was walking down the meandering pathways, discovering the mysterious tents, watching the different shows, and meeting all of the performers. It was exciting and beautiful and so much more than I expected.
This book does span an awfully long time period, but I think it's written in such a way that it doesn't really feel like it's been so long, especially near the end. I love how the conflict is resolved and how Celia & Marco's love story plays out. I wanted this circus to go on forever!
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a beautifully written, exhilirating, fantasy read. I wouldn't really recommend it for a younger audience though, since I think the language and some of the situations are intended for an adult audience, but I think the older YA crowd would really enjoy and connect with The Night Circus. I'm sad there's not really any room for a sequel set in this circus, but I'm also glad that the story wraps up in a standalone book. I'm also kind of glad I was able to listen to the audiobook version of this book, because I think it made it go by even quicker. I'd recommend this book for a long car drive, since I think it's best enjoyed all at once (if possible). I can't wait to see what Erin Morgenstern has up her sleeves next! A 5/5!