Published by Doubleday on September 13, 2011
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
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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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
The Night Circus is an amazing evocative title with rich descriptions of a Carnival that comes to town. Under the surface however, it’s basically a mysterious competition between two wizards pitting two apprentices against each other. The terms of the competition are vague, yet both Celia and Marco participate for over 16 years across the entire book, without questioning, and without finding out what the meaning of it is.
The Night Circus and its inception through the Midnight Dinners itself, is amazing. With the interchanging first person perspectives of you walking through the circus, and the descriptions of the circus tents and the different acts available, you can actually feel it come alive in your head. It’s an amazingly transportative novel, and the ability to taste the sweets, smell the caramel popcorn and fairy floss of the circus, is definitely amazing for the senses. I’d probably call it brain candy.
The whole feeling of the book is mysterious and based on magic and secrets. The time of the book is not linear and people have ulterior motives. Unfortunately, there were quite a few glaring mysteries that were given weak explanations. Like the whole circus is based on a mysterious secret, which is already unveiled early in the book. Judging from the vagueness of some elements, you’d expect at least a few answers when you reach the end of the book. Only half of your questions, will reach an answer at the end.
Upon finishing the Night Circus, there were so many glaring problems with it that I was quite disappointed. This book was heading towards a 5 stars rating but when I reached halfway through, I realised that there were lots of things that were really vague, and never really given a satisfying conclusion. For example, what is the point of the competition between the two magicians? Why are they pitting people against each other? What are the rules?
These are just a few of the questions that I had upon finishing the book. It’s a feeling of frustration, knowing that some details are meant to be left vague, but never actually having an answer.
The characters are one-dimensional, flat and monotone. I could swear that both Celia and Marco have the same personality. They’re basically a reflection of each other. The love story, is also secondary to the amazing nature of the circus. Don’t come into the book expecting a good plot, because it seems like the real star of the book is the actual circus.
There were a few interesting concepts, like the Reveurs who are extreme fans of the circus who follow it around and know when and where it’s going to pop up again. There were also the awesome Midnight Dinners, where I could actually taste the food and the wines and feel the piano music playing in the background. I’d really love to see the movie when it comes out, and relive the Night Circus again. It’s really a place that I’d love to visit and just lose myself in.
Rating: 4 stars
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