To say THE NIGHT CIRCUS is atmospheric is an understatement, almost an insult to the strength of Erin Morgenstern’s prose.
From page one, the reader is immediately immersed in the sights and sounds and smells of Le Cirque des Reves, a magical world spun with from starlight and shadow. As we get to know the protagonists, Celia and Marco, we see the sweep of an elegant hem on the painted floor, we smell the smoky sweet scent of caramel, we hear the tick-tock of enchanted clockwork. Beyond the circus gates, the innumerable tents hold singular wonders–bottles filled with memory, ice gardens heavy with frozen blooms, deep rooted trees that burn with wishes and dreams.
The circus is filled to bursting with story.
And it’s all part of the game. A game in which two magicians pit their chosen proteges against one another. Cirque des Reves becomes the chessboard, the battleground from which Celia and Marco cannot escape. And they are not alone. The competitive work, their combined illusions form a fragile web in which many performers, friends and guests are precariously suspended.
The game does not end, the circus must remain until a victor emerges and a loser falls. But what happens when opponents become lovers? What happens when each side cannot bear to win?
THE NIGHT CIRCUS has the answer, and surely much more. The narrative twists back and again through time and many perspectives. One cannot help but search each new page for clues, for answers, for puzzle pieces to place on the table’s larger picture. The reader’s journey is part of the story–the tale feels complete only when the last revelations click into place. For me, that final clarity was satisfying beyond the last scene.
In the end, I flipped to the last page, desperate for a trapdoor into the novel’s world. Call me a red-scarved reveur, but I was not ready to leave the circus.
And I’m certain I’m not be alone in this. THE NIGHT CIRCUS beckons, secure your own admission. This debut will pull you into it’s sparkling, magical game.
Hungry for more? Try this recipe for *glorious* homemade caramel sauce. Maybe it will tide you over until the next time Le Cirque comes to town.