By Tqwana B.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
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 Reves,” 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.
I’m going to borrow a quote from another book to sum up my feelings about The Night Circus: “I fell in love like you fall asleep; slowly, then all at once.”
As hypnotic as the magic Celia and Marco perform, and a plot that develops like the gears of Herr Theissen’s clocks about to strike the hour. I wanted to reread it immediately, to watch it unfold all over again, greedy for any details I overlooked the first time. Considering that you end the book where you start, it invites you to do just.
There’s a very dream-like quality to the narrative, and watching Celia and Marco’s love story feels, I imagine, much the same way the Rêveurs (ardent fans and circus followers) feel about the circus itself. With each new tent and attraction, the more memorized you become. I love how Tsukiko, the contortionist, calls them love letters rather than the challenges they are intended to be.
It took a little while for me to get used to the non-linear structure, however. But, be assured that it will all come together in the end. Time, and timing, are such important parts of this story. Telling it out of sequence only heightens the anticipation and draws you in deeper.
And of love? This is a love story, but not just Celia and Marco overcoming the ambitions of their fathers and teachers to be together, but also their love for the people pulled into their game unknowingly. And Celia’s determination to save them, the circus, and Marco, even if the cost is her life. And those people that loved them and the circus and are willing to sacrifice “normal” to be a part of it: Chandresh, the proprietor. Bailey, whose role is a mystery for most of the novel. Widge and Poppet, who are the children of Celia and Marco’s love manifested through magic. The Burgess sisters. Friedrick Theissen. Mr. Barris.
Yes, I am sacrificing grammar for this review. And I’ll stop gushing now.
A few favorite lines and then I’m done: