|The Night Circus
4 / 5
"The circus arrives without warning."
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 Reves," 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, 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. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
I was so incredibly (and surprisingly!) enchanted by this book. I have to laugh at myself, because I would never have actually picked the book up - I wasn't originally interested in the content, and too many of my friends (and trusted book sources) gave it terrible reviews! But I ended up reading it anyway because I made a silly mistake. I decided that I wanted a little more structure to my reading, and so I decided to tackle a list that looked manageable: the Book Riot Readers’ Top 50 Novels on Goodreads! Now...I should have looked more closely. I didn’t realize that some of the books on the list only had ONE or TWO votes!! Whoops! I guess I should have known better when a lot of more excellent books than those on the list didn’t make the cut, but I think I was so encouraged by my being very close to finishing the book list - I felt like it was such an attainable goal! As it is, I only have 6 left on that list to finish, so I still may work towards it. Besides, I am so glad that I did pick this one up. I was so thoroughly charmed by it! I understand why there are entire wikis devoted to the novel, and a huge fanbase out there.
Morgenstern truly draws you into the world of Le Cirque des Reves: you can see and smell and taste and feel everything that she describes, and you feel as if you are a visitor, yourself! I wanted to be there alongside the characters, experiencing the same magic. While I wasn’t as drawn in by the personalities or even the plotline, I did love the circus itself - perhaps as a character unto itself. Which was the entire reason the book won me over. As it did for many others, the main love story feel kind of flat for me, but no matter. The competition that the entire plot hinged upon? Not really all that interesting or intriguing to me. So I am not certain what it was that kept me coming back. Or what made me love the book so. Perhaps I was simply, literally enchanted by it! I think my favorite people were the Reveurs, those who like me were drawn by the siren call of the circus. The black, white, and red magic of it all.
Like I said, though, don’t read it for the story. There really isn’t much of one! I think the period was written really well, and I think I loved all of the scenes which were described in such rich detail: dinner parties, individual circus tents, tearooms, workshops. Victorian England and turn-of-the-century New England. Swirls of color and whiffs of scent are what my mind truly recall of the book. Perhaps with a strong story, this would have been a 5-star book for me. As it was, I am still glad I mistakenly “coerced myself” into reading it!
P.S. I almost forgot to mention that it was read by Jim Dale, who also read a favorite audiobook of mine, The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart. Perhaps that was originally what kept me reading! I adore his reading voice.
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