Rating: 5 stars
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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.
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lvies of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.
But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.
Warning: There are minor spoilers!
This is a really slow book and especially in the beginning, I felt like it wasn’t really going anywhere. At times, it’s even possible to forget what the central plot is because the author takes her time describing characters, the setting, the magick, and basically anything and everything that could possibly be described. I am a total snob when it comes to writing style but luckily enough, I absolutely loved the prose in The Night Circus.
I must admit that the blurb is slightly misleading. The competition between Celia and Marco is really not that fierce and it was kind of frustrating how it took half the book for Celia to figure out who her opponent is..it’s constantly implied that she’s very talented and smart and the fact that she wasn’t sure who she was up against, really didn’t add to the tension. Generally speaking, the book isn’t as dramatic as the blurb leads you to believe but it is a work of art, nonetheless.
The characters were incredible! Even many of the secondary characters have a very complex back story so by the end of the story, I kind of felt like I was reading about people I knew. It’s also worth noting that there were many characters (but I personally didn’t find it hard to keep track of them as they all had unique personalities).
Like I said, this book is really slow-paced and things only really start happening about halfway through the book. The book also jumped around a lot (from past-to-present and vice versa) and each chapter would be from a different (third person) POV. I think this kept things interesting (especially when a previous chapter ended on a minor cliffhanger).
I would definitely recommend this book but not to someone who is looking for something fast-paced. But if you’re looking for something unique and adore long meandering descriptions then this is the book for you.