Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
Even in Part One, I felt myself getting antsy and impatient for that final meet up. Reading this required a lot of patience and a shifting of gears on my part. Where I’m accustomed to things happening right off the bat, here Morgenstern takes pains in laying the groundwork. As a result I felt as Celia and Marco did: excited, resigned, and nervous… antsy for a confrontation.
It’s not told in a linear fashion of a first, a then and a finally, rather it jumps back and forth from past to present… and this is just one thing to get used to. But that we have to consider what is expected of them was another thing. Exactly what was supposed to happen?
With a contest of sorts at hand, I found it hard to follow especially not knowing precisely what the rules were, or what the end game would be. But I read on as they both prepared for the same thing in totally different ways, and all the while I found myself trying to pick one to root for one, and not being able to do so because both of them were impressive.. As to the rest, (and they really were just “the rest,” as in extra,) I had my questions for/about them too.
The characters are a study in contrast, where Prospero/Bowen and Alexander are both driven, they did act quite differently: where one was hands on, the other took a more academic approach. But it’s not just the differences that I should emphasize, it’s the characters themselves! I really wanted to know what they had to gain from all of it. And as the story progressed (and it did albeit slowly,) a little more of their shared history was revealed.
So, Harry Potter? I think not! The Night Circus is different, and while it takes some getting used, it’s got loads to offer on its own: magic, mystery and romance.