There’s Nimue and Merlin, Juliet and Romeo, Harley and the Joker, and now from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Celia and Marco, love stories with a sadistic twist.
When Prospero the Enchanter takes ownership of his talented young daughter, he can’t resist challenging his old nemesis Alexander to one more contest. With no beginning or ending date set and no specific venue the competition begins, each Master training their chosen apprentice in the art of magic. And what better place to display these talents than at a circus – not just any circus, but a Night Circus which begins at sundown and closes at dawn roaming from one site to another with no advance notice but so spectacular in its amusements that the general public cannot resist its allure. There’s even an extreme fandom of Reveurs who seek out Le Cirque Des Reves and follow it from locale to locale, wearing a splash of red against their austere black and white clothing to identify themselves to fellow devotees. The brainchild of Chandresh and his small entourage of creative talents, they achieve the goal of creating a masterpiece unique in its scope and “top shelf” in its entertainment value managed with the silent, hidden skill of Marco, Chandresh’s Assistant and Celia, the Illusionist. The reader finds themselves in the midst of the performance, mesmerized with the details and wondering how the saga will play itself out.
A good way to sum up this book is through a quote attributed to the clockmaker and number one fan:
“I find I think of myself not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus again, if only in their minds, when they are unable to attend it physically. I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will.
When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn’t it? -Friedrick Thiessen, 1898″
It is indeed magic, not just the plot but the beauty of the narrative as the words paint an unforgettable picture making the reader feel as if they are a part of the scene. The chapters circulate back and forth through time from the 1870’s to 1902 as secrets are revealed and details disclosed in such as way as to keep us guessing right through the chaotic climax which changes everything.
I could compare The Night Circus to the peeling of an artichoke in order to access its heart, but I feel it is more like a Rubik’s Cube requiring numerous twists and turns to reach the final move. Five stars for an incredible reading experience.