This is another selection for which I’m extremely late to the party since it’s been getting good press since its 2011 publication. I finally got The Night Circus from the library when the buzz for Erin Morgenstern’s most recent book “The Starless Sea” reached a fever pitch. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect because none of the book podcasts I listen to knew quite how to describe it. It’s not quite fantasy, not quite magical realism and not quite romance. It seems to borrow from all the best parts of these genres.
Le Cirque de Reves (The Circus of Dreams) appears in town without warning and it’s tents are silent and still until it opens at dusk. What you see once you enter is a feast for the senses and the imagination. Everything inside will feel elevated from your average circus. Though none but a select few know it, two young lovers, Marco and Celia, supply the magic that keeps the show alive. They have been locked in a competition set up by their wards when they were just small children and have fallen in love in spite of this. Before the book’s end, everyone who gets close to Le Cirque de Reve will be pulled in to their orbit and affected for good or ill.
What was so engrossing for me about this book was not just the beauty and wonder of the Le Cirque de Reves but the pervasive feeling that everyone who came in contact with it was a part of something magical. Which, technically they were but that feeling was transferred to me as a reader as well. The descriptions are so rich that you are transported and begin to feel like another circus-goer. There is an argument to be made that some of the character development suffers as a result of all this book’s lush surroundings. However, as a reader, the feeling of being a part of something special and magical when you open a book is one of the best feelings you can get.