Author: Erin Morgenstern
Le Cirque des Rêves appears abruptly: incandescent and utterly mystifying. Those who visit are immediately bewitched by the sights and sounds. Unbeknownst to these guests and the founders themselves, the circus is more than a traveling carnival, it is a battleground for a fantastical contest. Skilled illusionists, Prospero the Enchanter and the enigmatic man in the grey suit known only as Mr. A. H–, have been competing with one other for generations. Their weapons of choice are their own students.
Talented, young illusionists Celia and Marco have been training for years for a challenge neither of them fully understands. The rules are unclear and the identity of the other a mystery. Celia and Marco are both intertwined in the activities of the circus and as they cross paths, each becomes more and more intrigued by the other. But the powerful connection between the two of them threatens the contest. Soon they discover the game they are playing is not so simple and with each grand move more people are pulled in and the outcome will have repercussions for everyone.
‘You are looking for someone who can perform in the midst of a crowd?’ she asks Chandresh. He nods. ‘I see’ Celia says. Then, so swiftly she appears not even to move, she picks up her jacket from the stage and flings it out over the seats where, instead of tumbling down, it swoops up, folding into itself. In the blink of an eye folds of silk are glossy black feathers, large beating wings, and it is impossible to pinpoint the moment when it is fully raven and no longer cloth.”
Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus immediately transported me somewhere else. The story takes place over several years, chronicling the idea of Le Cirque des Rêves and how an eclectic group of people work together to not only make the idea feasible but very real. Morgenstern takes her readers on a journey from the first moments the architecture of the circus is discussed to the hiring of the acts themselves. Le Cirque des Rêves is as much a character in this book as any individual with its beguiling atmosphere that seeps off the pages, making you wish that it actually existed. From contortionists to fortune-tellers to fire-eaters, the circus is home to the strange and awesome. There are labyrinths, a Hall of Mirrors, and living statues; each tent in Le Cirque des Rêves holds a new and otherworldly spectacle.
Celia and Marco are raised separately under the guidance of two very arrogant, yet proficient illusionists. Both are uncertain of themselves and the challenge they are taking part in, so it is no wonder why the two of them are drawn to one another. They begin to create illusions together much to the dismay of their instructors. Neither feels quite as determined to win as their teachers when the parameters are so vague, but the contest proves unavoidable despite their desire to run from it.
Every character Morgenstern introduces plays a vital role in the story. Characters that are at once thought to be minor, emerge as intricate players by the end of the novel. I confess my favorite character is Widget with his knack for storytelling. I would very much like to open one of his jars of fables. The proprietor Chandresh, like many of the characters not involved in the circus on a daily basis, begins to notice something off. For all the mystery that surrounds Le Cirque des Rêves, no one actually believes real magic is involved. But as the story progresses more and more characters sense something else is taking place behind the scenes.
I loved seeing how every character arc and story line coalesced to produce such a beautifully written story. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is rich in detail and enchanting in spirit. If you haven’t already picked this one up, I encourage you to do so.