The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (♦♦♦♦½)
Mr. A.H., a.k.a. Alexander, used to be Prospero’s teacher, but when Prospero challenged Alexander’s theories and views, a perpetual duel began. Henceforth, Prospero and Alexander kept training students for the fight of their lives, only the rules of the game were never properly disclosed. When Prospero puts forth his daughter Celia as a contender for the latest challenge, Alexander searches for his own candidate. Enters Marco, a nine year old boy who has grown up in an orphanage and is glad to see the world for a change.
Years go by and Celia and Marco are trained constantly with unorthodox methods, each one without ever meeting the other; that changes with the genesis of a unique circus called Le Cirque des Réves or Circus of Dreams, a place which opens from night to dawn and where impossible feats of imagination are common place. As The Night Circus develops, their inhabitants and the people behind its conception begin to notice things they cannot explain, such as why none of them has seemed to age a day since the circus started, or why only two children have been born in the circus since, children who, by the way, have unique talents of their own.
When Celia and Marco finally learn each other’s identities, first they try to outdo each other’s work, second they collaborate and finally fall so madly in love with one another that they jeopardize the safety of the circus and the whimsical people who populate it.
I loved this book. I haven’t been as enthusiastic lately about the books I’ve read, but The Night Circus is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. It is whimsical, mesmerizing. The Night Circus is a blend of illusionism, fantastic feats of imagination, and mystery at the core of it all. Even the mystery regarding the unique events which happen at the circus isn’t the standard mystery fare. The Night Circus is a perfect concoction of the beautiful and the strange making it a magical and enthralling reading experience.
Characters big and small are exceptionally well developed, all are important to the story in one way or another. Magic or illusionism is the thread that holds this book together, so characters are influenced in small or high degree by it, such as Chandresh Lefévre, the intellectual author of the circus, who was manipulated by Marco for years to the point of becoming a puppet, putty in Marco’s hands. Another character heavily influenced by illusionism with disastrous results was the bubbly Tara Burgess, one of the Burgess sisters.
The Night Circus is lavishly described. The relationship between Celia and Marco is tempestuous and sensual, with electric currents flowing from one to the other when they touch or kiss as only soul mates get to feel. Tsukiko and the Murray’s twins (Poppet and Widget) are three of the most enigmatic characters in the book and the ones key to understand the events which unfold at the end.
I loved the descriptions of the Midnight Dinners,--who took place in Chandresh’s mansion-- sumptuous culinary affairs to which everyone who was someone got invited to. It was at one of the Midnight Dinners where the idea and details surrounding the night circus were conceived.
In short, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a unique, mesmerizing experience that no one should miss.