Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
This is such a different book, it is almost hard to review. To begin with, Morgenstern's writing is magical, beautiful, and wonderful to read. I found myself savoring this book and not wanting to race through it. The images are rich and luxurious. The circus is intriguing and compelling.
Cecila and Marco are part of a strange and mysterious competition. They have each been trained in magic from childhood and are bound together, in a game that neither knows the rules to. The venue is Le Cirque des Reves, an amazing black and white circus that is only open at night, that arrives mysteriously in various locations, has amazing tents and spectacles, and is a place where magic prevails.
The story is woven together, going back and forth in time (you definitely need to read those chapter headings to see where and when the chapter is taking place), which I think adds to the mystery, illusion and anticipation of the book.
I enjoyed the range of characters in the book, especially Celia, Marco, Poppet and Widget. There is a romance between Celia and Marco, but it is just one aspect to the book, not the focus. The focus is definitely the circus itself. It might even be safe to say that the circus is the main character and everyone else is the supporting cast. This may be why the book is meandery and evolves the way it does.
I would definitely recommend this book to others, but, be warned, it is not action packed. It is full of intrigue, relationships, nuances, mystery and magic.
Here is the YouTube book trailer:
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