Published by Doubleday on September 13, 2011
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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, 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.
Kassiah: If someone had asked me to rate this book three-fourths of the way through, I am positive that I would not be so favorable.
Then I got to the end.
And I finally got it.
You know all about this book already, don’t you?
“The Circus arrives without warning.”
Indeed. This book takes place in a Circus, for the most part. Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) is a magnificent circus, open only at night, and made up of tents full of wonders and amazingness that I can’t even begin to describe to you. And I won’t try–Erin Morgenstern is a fantastic artist who writes the way dreams are made.
“A circus?” says Lainie Burgess with a smile. “How marvelous!”
“Like a carnival?” Mr. Barris asks, sounding mildly confused.
“More than a carnival,” Chandresh says. “More than a circus, really, like no circus anyone has ever seen. Not a single large tent but a multitude of tents, each with a particular exhibition. No elephants or clowns. No, something more refined than that. Nothing commonplace. this will be different, this will be an utterly unique experience, a feast for the senses. Theatrics sans theater, an immersive entertainment. We will destroy the persumptions and preconceived notions of what a circus is and make it something else entirely, something new.”
The prose is beautiful. The descriptions are vibrant and made me feel as if I were there–and that’s kind of the point.
I should stop for just a second and tell you how much I wanted this book. I practically stalked the Random House booth at ALA and was almost in tears when I missed the ARCs that were given out (I was in line for a giveaway for you guise). Then I found it on netgalley and was devastated when I was turned down ::sad face:: Then the best thing ever happened: my beautiful friend Christine waited in line and got me a signed copy at ComicCon. ::jumpyclaps:: I’m forever in her debt.
Back to the story:
From the outset, you realize that there are basically three storylines going on within the book: the Circus itself, which includes Celia and Marco and the competition that they are involved in, a boy named Bailey, who seems as though he doesn’t really fit into the story, and you–as a patron, experiencing some of the wondrous sights and sounds and tastes of the Circus.
The scent of pine is overwhelming as you enter the next room to find yourself in a forest full of evergreen trees. Only these trees are nnot green but bright and white, luminous in the darkness surrounding them.
They are difficult to navigate. As soon as you begin walking the walls are lost in shadows and branches.
There is a sound like a woman laughing nearby, or perhaps it is only the rustling of the trees as you push your way forward, searching for the next door, the next room.
You feel the warmth of breath on your neck, but when you turn there is no one there.
Of course, I’m oversimplifying it, because each one of these story-lines is very detailed and intricate, and it is downright confusing.
Until it isn’t.
There are so many things that I want to tell you about this book, but the number one thing I want to say is keep reading. This isn’t a fast read by any means. It’s all so real, so much. And every single inconsequential thing comes into play. Erin Morgenstern is a master storyteller–she’s simply brilliant. And I cannot begin to understand the way even the most trivial statement made in passing proved to be absolutely monumental. I’m utterly blown away.
I don’t usually like the film adaptation of books, but in this case, I am crazy excited. Summit has lots of brilliant material to work with, and I hope they do a good job. It has the potential to be amazing.
You follow me–you know I have to tell you about the romance. I’m hesitant to say anything about it but feel that I have to. This book is built up to be an epic, all-consuming romance, and that’s true. But you don’t know it until the last third of the book.
But ohmigod when you feel it–it’s just…yeah. Epic. Sweeping. Swoon.
The things Marco says. The fact that he associates her with love poems and Shakespearean Sonnets. His ability to be himself with her. Gosh. I don’t even know what else to say.
“I can see every seat,” she says. “You are not hidden from me when you sit in the back row.”
“I thought I would be too tempted to touch you if I sat in the front,” Marco says, moving from his chair to stand at the edge of the circular performance space, just inside the first row of chairs.
“Am I close enough for your illusion?” she asks.
“If I say no, will you come closer?”
All of the characters, though shrouded in mystery, are distinct and multi-dimensional. The parts of them that are exposed to us are real and leave you begging for another glimpse. Though I wanted to get to know them more, I didn’t ever feel that they were lacking in character or authenticity. While I had many *gasp! I can’t believe that just happened* moments, I never felt like they were acting OOC. I love that about this book.
I also love Widget.
There are a few things that I didn’t love. Being confused most of the book is definitely one of them. I hated Hector and feel almost as strongly about Alexander, but I’m not sure. I also would like to have understood slightly more about the aging of the characters, especially the original attendees of the Midnight Dinners, and what will happen to everyone who is still involved with the Circus. Of course I wanted more ha! Though everything came together at the end (and splendidly so), I just don’t know that the amount of confusion and wth?!? was necessary.
I don’t want to spoil any more of the plot for you than I already have, and telling you anything else really would do that. There are a few things that I wish that I had known before I started reading, so I want to share. I wish that I knew something about Tarot Cards. I know absolutely nothing, and even looking them up didn’t offer me very much insight to a part of the book that I felt to be significant. I wish I hadn’t been totally in the dark about that. Also, I wish I had written down the timeline, or paid more attention to it. There were several instances that I found myself flipping back and forth, trying to remember where they were and when it was. I very much would like to read this book again, and when I do, I will be taking notes lol Also, I want to tell you what is probably the most important thing:
If you don’t know what the hell is going on throughout most of the book, that’s okay. It’ll make sense eventually. Just enjoy the ride. And trust–you will.
You know me and stars. If I could give half-stars on goodreads, I’d give it 4-1/2. But I’m rounding up for the sheer brilliance of the story, for the awesome imagery and detail, and for Widget, whom I love with a fiery passion ::swoonysigh::.