In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire.
Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs – the dreamers. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter’s daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer’s apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love…
It reminds me to a ridiculous extent of The Prestige by Christopher Priest (review here), and that will never be a bad thing. Both involve Victorian-esque magicians skulking around trying to defeat each other in a secret duel. But hey, there’s a circus so I’m hardly trying to deduct points from The Night Circus for originality. There’s no plagiarism and I’m not trying to suggest there is, just that I loved the pair of them 🙂
It’s the atmosphere that does it, I think. That’s what makes it so compelling, so addictive, so… wonderful. I’ve never read anything like it. There is a plot, and a fairly fast-paced one at that, but it would be nothing without the beautifully descriptive prose of Erin Morganstern. Inserted between between every few chapters is a page written in the second person, detailing your visit to the circus – I swear you can really see/smell/hear the infamous black and white circus swirling around you.
I do think the ending was lacking something, but I’m not sure what. A bit of ‘oomph’ maybe. It just seemed to drift on a little longer than perhaps it should. I’m just not sure it really need the bit of housekeeping that went on afterwards.
I haven’t read a book in a long time that’s so close to being perfect. Erin Morganstern has a talent for manipulating prose that will never be surpassed. I freely admit that I’m a completionist reader – I take a small amount of pleasure from having finished books – but even I wanted to savour every word of The Night Circus. I purposefully read it at the end of 2011 so I could pick it up again in 2012, and I will definitely be doing so.