“The Circus arrives without warning.”
This intriguing sentence starts off a tale of magic, romance, and wonderment in debut author Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Long time rivals Hector Bowen (aka Prospero the Entertainer) and Alexander (aka the man in the gray suit) decide to have a competition. Can Hector’s daughter, Celia, who has natural magical talent, beat Marco, a boy who Alexander plucks out of an orphanage and has no natural ability but is a fast learner? Once the two are grown, the stage is set; The Night Circus. Each competitor creates tent after fantastic tent. A garden completely made of ice, a room full of clouds, a carousel so real you can see the animals breathing, and so forth. But as Celia and Marco compete, they fall in love with each other and want nothing more than for the game to end. What neither of them knows is that the game will only end when one of them dies.
I absolutely love books that can grab my attention from the first sentence, and this book is no exception. From the very beginning, I was drawn into the world created by Morgenstern. She possesses the ability to invoke all the senses and make you feel as though you are in the story. You can feel the icy blossoms in your hand from the ice garden, you glide alongside Bailey as he discovers the cloud maze for the first time, and you can smell the caramel popcorn wafting through the circus grounds. The book spans 30 years, and you have to pay close attention to what year you’re in, because the author jumps back and forth, but she weaves it all together in the end to create a memorable conclusion. This is marketed as an adult book, but I think upper high school students will love it as well.
With book rights sold in 22 countries and a film deal with Summit Entertainment, this book needs to go on your to-read list.
I only wish the Les Cirque des Reves would come to St. Paul, MN.