Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"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, 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 performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead."
The Night Circus is a fantastical book. It's somewhat in the style of modern-adaptation-dark-fairytale novels (ala Holly Black, Sarah Cross, etc), but is a unique story of its own.
Erin Morgenstern definitely has a gift of imagination, and beautiful prose. The book is not high-octane action, but more like a dream- time bends and shifts (it's told across several years, out of order, but you do get a date reference at the chapter's beginning to orient you), and anything is possible. She toys with the concept of magic, human potential, illusion, and expectation. And, like the Reveurs, I was charmed and enchanted.
It's hard to say much about the story without giving things away, but suffice to say there are a handful of characters and you'll love and be frustrated at all of them.
I highly recommend it for fans of Victorian magician things (The Prestige, The Illusionist, etc), imagination/creativity with pretty prose, high-concept elements, clean romance, historic magical realism, and storytelling.
(and also...please can there be a real Le Cirque des Rêves? I'll assist Tante Padve, or sell tickets, or make chocolate mice, for free, if I can explore Le Cirque every night!)
Labels: book review, circus, erin morgenstern, fantasy, literary friday, magic, romance, the night circus, victorian, YA