From Goodreads: 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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
Here’s another book that I very much enjoyed reading. Magical realism is one of my favorite genres, and the words here are beautiful. The prose of this book is indeed rich and seductive; it did cast a spell on me, and I found myself very much drawn into this story. It was easy to dream along.
Large parts of this book are made up by descriptions of the different tents that are part of the circus. I am almost envious of Morgenstern’s imagination. There seems to be no end to her creativity as she slowly adds tents to the circus, each one portrayed in detail and offering a new experience. The circus is black and white, and sometimes I got so engrossed in the descriptions that it was just as jarring to READ about a different color as it would have been to SEE it after being surrounded by nothing but black and white.
The book jumps around quite a bit with short chapters focusing on different characters. But I never found it confusing. There are a number of characters, some of them quite unusual. Morgenstern does a good job bringing them to life yet keeping them a bit fantastical.
While I am wrapped in a feeling of wonderful after reading this book, I can see why some people would probably not enjoy it. There is not much action here. The above description of the book almost makes you expect something Harry Potter-ish. But the tense duels at Hogwarts are very different from the duels of Celia and Marco, which are driven by a growing respect and love for each other. While their love story is central to the story, the reader finds out about it in a very gentle way. A lot of times it is only alluded to by others. I find that that fits very well into the overall atmosphere of the book, but if you intent on finding a “headfirst tumble”—which makes me think of something much faster-paced—you might be disappointed.
This is a book you either love or strongly dislike. I, for one, have put it on my list of favorite books. I have to think for a while before I decide what book to read next based on this one.