Synopsis (from GoodReads.com)
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.
It feels like the Night Circus is real. Honestly. Like I step into the little courtyard with the magical bonfire every time I open the book. Even though in my head I have a perfect image of what the circus looks like, I gobble down every tidbit of information that Morgenstern offers. It’s the way she writes – mysterious, enchanting and engrossing. It’s nearly impossible to pull myself back out of her world into my own.
Even in settings different than the circus, the same enchanting atmosphere is present. It’s there in Marco’s flat, in Celia’s father’s home, even in the various theaters that Morgenstern leads us to. It’s nearly impossible to not be drawn in by her vivid world.
The plot leaves a lot to be desired. The novel seems to be structured around descriptions of the circus (which I loved) instead of around plot points and events (which I didn’t). I liked Celia and Marco, but I wasn’t invested in them. Celia’s talents made her fascinating, but Marco’s aren’t as focused on within the story – we only learn about them later.
The competition itself also becomes background to the descriptions. I feel like Morgenstern could have introduced the competition within her descriptions and not have lost any of the magical effect the novel has become famous for. Their love story also appears to be somewhat nonexistent – at least, until the end (ahh, can’t talk about it!).
Celia and Marco were much more interesting when the competition’s bond was keeping them apart. The dramatic moments and Marco’s ‘relationship’ with the fortune-teller Isobel creates a bit of tension and drama within the otherwise seemingly flat relationship. I feel like this part of the novel could have gone so much farther…
So, I have a problem. I adore this book, but it still leaves a lot to be desired for me. Yet I will read it again and again when I need to add a little bit of fantasy into my life. It’s a story of a wonderful magical circus that appears one moment and vanishes the next, but it is not a love story. I decided on three stars, mostly because it wouldn’t be fair to advertise this as a four/five star book when I feel there is so much lacking in the story’s plot. But the circus, oh that circus will be in my dreams.