The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Le Cirque des Reves is a mysterious traveling carnival that arrives unannounced, and opens only at night. Ostensibly the brainchild of artist Chandresh Christophe Lefevre, the circus features seemingly endless tents filled with performers, rides, and indoor landscapes for patrons to explore. Many find the circus magical because it actually is; Le Cirque has secretly been chosen as venue for a private competition between two magicians, who have bound their students into a mysterious test of magical methods. One student, Celia, performs in plain sight as an illusionist, while her rival, Marco, works behind the scenes as Lefevre’s assistant.

The circus is definitely the star here, as Celia’s and Marco’s creations make it a wonderfully imaginative setting. There is a seemingly endless labyrinth of puzzle-like rooms, a towering maze of fluffy clouds, and even a menagerie of paper animals. Morgenstern’s creations are fantastically descriptive, and titular circus would indeed be an awesome place to visit.

The story focuses not only on how the contest affects Celia and Marco, but also on those unwittingly caught up in the “game.” A secondary plot focuses on Bailey, a boy who falls in love with both the circus and one of its performers. The two stories converge at the end, and the payoff is overall pretty satisfying.

There are also short interludes told in the second person, documenting the reader’s own tour through the circus. While there is a nice twist to these in the end, oftentimes they seem redundant as Bailey especially seems to encounter many of the same things. The romance aspect is also a bit forced; the reader is told Celia and Marco love each other, but the relationship doesn’t seem that developed.

The Night Circus is certainly worth visiting, especially for fans of magical realism.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.