Monday, October 10, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Release date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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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.
There are some books you read and enjoy, and they head into the deep abyss of your brain, not to resurface again until called upon. But then there are the rare books that are such an immersive experience that they take on a life of their own in your mind, and the smallest detail can bring it right back to the forefront. The Night Circus is most definitely a member of the latter. While I was reading it, I had a hard time pulling myself out of the book to do anything else. This wasn't just because I was so engrossed by the story, which is normally the case for me, but because I was so enveloped into the world that I felt like I was literally there. I could almost smell the popcorn and the smoke from the bonfire, could almost hear the applause from inside the tents. I don't know if later readings will be the same as my first experience, but I hope they are like the circus itself, always changing and always better than remembered.

I've never been to the circus, so I'm not sure if I'm a circus person or not, but if a real one is anything akin to Le Cirque des Rêves, I know I'll love it. Erin Morgenstern's descriptions are perfectly mystical and dreamlike, making the whole book feel like something out of your most wonderful dreams. Some people have commented on the third person and all the point-of-view switches making the story feel distant, but I didn't think that at all. The way we follow several people through the most important parts of their lives makes the reader feel close to the characters, like they're more our friends than characters in a book.

I loved how every small detail was important to the story. At first I thought Bailey was only being used as a device to see the circus directly from an outsider's eyes, but he turned into so much more. Everything the characters did had repercussions that all enfolded into the beautiful ending (which I couldn't get over! I was so afraid it was going to kill me, and while it wasn't a happily ever after kind of thing, it fit.)

I honestly don't have anything else to say that can describe what an experience reading The Night Circus was to me. I can't go into characters or plot, because I just can't see anything I say having relevance. All I can do is to urge everyone to read The Night Circus! Even if you have problems with minute details, you won't argue with me about the lovely and magical experience.

So, should you risk a paper cut? You will not regret any paper cuts The Night Circus could inflict on you, I promise.

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