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.
I have been intimidated by this book for a while now. I bought it when everyone was talking about it years ago close it the book's release date, and then tried reading it. I didn't have the time to really enjoy it the way you're supposed to with books like these, and so I put it down. I brought it to and from my college dorm room and home multiple times, and then in January 2016 it traveled with me to the apartment I live in now. I am so mad it took me this long to finally dive into this story.
This book was amazing. It's a slow paced story with a lot of world (well, circus) building, but honestly I think it was worth it and I wouldn't change it. There were moments during reading I was thinking why is this so slow? Why not make it faster paced? but once I got to the end honestly it all kind of made sense. The ending completely made the slower paced story worth pushing through. My biggest advice for this book is to keep pushing through, even if you're unsure about the story.
The circus and the world Morgenstern has built is absolutely enchanting. The mystery behind the circus and how the competition between Celia and Marco are what kept me turning the pages, despite feeling like it was slow at times. The descriptions of the circus, the performers, the different tents, and just the overall ambiance of the experience at Le Cirque des Rêves made me so badly want to experience it with the crowd.
The characters were actually really great and I enjoyed them a lot. However, it felt like the circus was the main character, and everyone else were secondary characters. The two characters I liked the best, Poppet and Widget, I would have liked to see more of, especially with Bailey. I thought Celia and Marco were beautifully characters and I did enjoy their plot a lot. But for me, Poppet and Widget's plot was my favorite to read about. The relationship between Celia and her father was intense, and made me feel really bad for her while also hating him. I also felt sorry for Marco with the man in the gray suit, because although Marco was given a lot of great opportunities, he was isolated. I think their entire story is an amazing one and I really enjoyed their romance. I like that the romance wasn't the main focus but instead the characters and circus were the main focus. For the scenes they have together I found them to have amazing chemistry not only as lovers but as friends but I would have liked more scenes with them together.
The writing is amazing. I think because the writing is so beautiful it was easy to just enjoy what was happening, instead of being annoyed by the pace. Morgenstern is obviously a very talented and poetic writer. Like the synopsis of the book states, her writing is rich and seductive. I have seen people review it as overly descriptive, and although I do think it's more descriptive than the average book I do not think it's a bad thing. I feel like the story and world benefit from how descriptive and rich the writing is. Some disagree, so I think it could be a matter of personal taste, but I lived for the descriptions.
There are not many issues I had with the book, but there are some flaws I think the book holds. One being that the timelines could get a bit confusing. I read before I started the book that you need to pay attention to the time stamps in front of each chapter, so I did. But it could still get confusing. Everything came together in the end, which tends to happen with different time periods in books, but the journey got confusing and sometimes it was frustrating. Another being that although I was promised a fierce competition, there wasn't much of a competition and it wasn't explained as well as I wish it was. Also, I did think that the side characters could have used more "screen time" but I think the amount of material we are given gets the job done. My last issue with the book is something that may sound vague to someone who hasn't read the book, but I am not a fan of putting spoilers in. I really enjoyed Celia and Marco's relationship, however I would have liked more scenes with them together. Especially with the ending. It felt like we were supposed to be caught up in this big love story, which I was enjoying but not fully emotionally invested in, and I think I could have been if there were more dialogue/scenes with them together in their relationship.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I thought the characters, world, and writing were beautiful. I can easily find myself re-reading this book again when I am in the mood for something rich and warm. I hope Erin Morgenstern writes more books so I can read them because her writing is so haunting.