The marketing machine behind this debut novel was incredible. Touted as the new Twilight (someone shoot me), it was made out to be the best book that anyone would pick up all year long. I will say that it’s immensely imaginative, and beautifully written. I liked Morgenstern’s style, and she paints an extraordinary picture. When you’re immersed in Le Cirque des Reves, you can’t mistake the splendor of the setting, or the innate beauty of its entertainers. The book is about magic, as I’m sure you’ve heard. Two “opposing” children, Celia and Marco, are raised by extraordinary (and largely cruel) illusionists, in preparation for what is to be a battle to the finish. The Circus is the battlefield. The children grow into incredibly powerful (and oddly well adjusted) adults, who are only aware of a pending “Challenge,” and that they are “bound” to another. What they do not know until the end is that only one can be left standing. They meet. Cue the romance music. Toss a monkey wrench into the overall plan.
The trouble is that after the first quarter of the book (strong start), I found myself feeling detached from the protagonists. That’s not to say that you won’t like Celia and Marco – you will. You’ll want them to go after their “fathers/teachers” and not one another. I won’t give away too much, but I will note that I came to enjoy other characters in the book more than the main two. I adored Poppet and Widget (twins), and I found myself looking forward to anything involving Tsukiko, the contortionist. Morgenstern goes to impressive lengths to provide detail to her characters, but then she seemed to gloss over the actual Challenge. She also paints such vivid images of the Circus that at times I thought I was reading a screenplay. (The rights were purchased long ago… coming soon to a theater near you.) I wanted this to live up to what it was touted to be, which was a “fierce competition.” It wasn’t. Overall, I’m giving The Night Circus 3.5 stars, because it’s a very creative read, but it’s just not the page-burner that I was anticipating.