Source: borrowed from the library.
Genre: historical (urban?) fantasy.
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.
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.
It’s been a month or so since I finished this book and I even thought about not reviewing it here because I’ve been in a bit of a reviewing slump but it’s a rather good book and I found I still had things to say about it after all this time, which is always a good thing.
I’m not a fan of circuses. I haven’t been to one in ages but the thought of animals being kept in tiny wagons/trailers and people twisting into complicated shapes never really appealed to me. But I’d be totally on board with visiting Le Cirque des Rêves! The atmosphere is so haunting and mysterious and the tents produced by Celia and Marco so innovative that I would definitely find something to entertain me.
But I started this review at the wrong end. I have to tell you all about Celia, the girl whose father saw her only as a pawn in his ridiculous grand scheme. And about Marco, the orphan boy whom his mentor picked up from the orphanage because he had an aptitude for magic, gave him everything he needed – except for love. Pitched against each other in a contest they know too little about, they create amazing magic and slowly fall in love (and no, it’s not a spoiler if it’s also in the blurb… I think). Anyway, their falling in love is more like a beginning of the story than the end of it, which is always a good thing in my book.
I had some problems with The Night Circus, though, which resulted in a slightly lower rating:
- I wish I’d read it in the original. I did not, however, because only the Slovenian translation was available through my library. And I wanted to see what the translation was like! It was OK but I still wish I’d read the English version – I just prefer reading originals whenever I can. But I didn’t lower the rating because of this, promise.
- Celia and Marco… as much as I felt for the two lonely children who didn’t know what they were being groomed for, I wasn’t absolutely convinced by them as adults. I know they were trapped and everything but I really did wish they’d do something to escape their mentors instead of throwing decades away to a cause that wasn’t even theirs.
- The lenght. This is a standalone novel but I still felt it was about 100 pages too long. I like concise fiction, so that might be just a personal preference but I felt that the story dragged a bit, what with all the switching back and forth in time – which brings me to:
- The switching back and forth in time. I don’t mind disjointed timelines. I really like them if they’re done well, in fact. But here the timelines didn’t seem distinct enough – I had to keep checking the dates to know where I was and what was happening.
But I enjoyed The Night Circus enough to be able to recommend it to you. I liked the atmosphere of the circus, the unique magic that Celia and Marco created, the mystery behind the cast of characters (the circus performers, especially). If you’re looking for a solid standalone fantasy novel, this is a good choice.
And if you’ve read it already and you’re looking for more standalones, give these a try: Stardust – Uprooted – The Accident Season – Vicious. I’m currently reading The Weight of Feathers which is also about performing artists, so I’m curious to see how it will compare to The Night Circus!
Have you read The Night Circus? Did you like it?
Have you ever been to a circus? What was it like?
I’d love to hear from you! :)