“Then the iron gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition. They swing outward, inviting the crowd inside.
Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.”
There are two rival illusionists with opposing world views. They each select a champion and magically bind them to compete in a challenge when they are older. One chooses his own daughter, Celia, who displays a powerful natural talent when she is dropped on his doorstep at a young age. One chooses an orphan, Marco, that he takes in and trains. Celia and Marco grow up separately and eventually meet as The Night Circus is forming, which will be the stage upon which they compete, though it takes them a while to realize that. As the circus grows in popularity and ever impressive spectacles, Celia and Marco stumble forward with the challenge without knowing the rules against which they’re playing or even how to win.
This would be a great read for late summer or early fall. It is so beautifully written and atmospheric – the black and white color scheme, the scents of popcorn, caramel apples, and cider, the mystery of the challenge and the spectacular feats of magic itself. It’s enchanting and whimsical with something wistful lying underneath. The circus travels around the world, suddenly appearing without a trace, and is only open between dusk and dawn. It draws people in, it attracts a group of passionate followers, and the challenge between Celia and Marco can and will affect everyone that is a part of it.
The Night Circus feels like a movie – one that has dazzling special effects and is enjoyable to watch, and you talk about how great it was with your friends. But it’s probably not one that has a lot of re-watch value. I really liked the book while I was reading it – I can see why it’s so popular. But even though there are a lot of really interesting characters, there aren’t any that I developed a surging affection for. I really liked Celia, but more for how incredibly powerful she was more than a sense of her personality. I really do hope that it gets made into a movie – the acts of magic and illusion practically beg to be put on the big screen, and if it’s done well it could be one of those movies that ends up being even better than the book.
If you like magical realism and whirlwind mystery love stories, The Night Circus won’t disappoint. Have a glass of wine while you read, and enjoy sinking into it.
Sarah Says: 4 stars