Simply. Wow. (Minor Spoilers)
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
…Oh, it’s one of those blurbs.
Ok… I’ll write my own then:
Celia and Marco, two magicians in a world where magic is not believed, are pitted against each other in a long running test of endurance, skill and imagination, with little information as to the rules of the game.Or when it will end. The venue for their competition is a lavish circus that is only open at night, which travels the globe and enchants its patrons all over the world. The circus has secrets of it’s own and the the more people who become involved, the more people who can get hurt. (How’d I do?)
This is the first book that I’ve really, truly, with a passion, LOVED this year. My notes for this review are all one word love letters, It’s sickening really. Words like ‘enigmatic’, ‘haunting’, ‘gripping’ and ‘beautiful’ all sharing space in the notes app on my phone.
The prose is so (to quote the cover) enchanting, the present tense allowing the reader to really connect and become a part of the magical Le Cirque du Rêves. Morgensterns’ descriptive power is obvious from the word go, describing the entrance to the circus, as though the reader is a patron, before switching back into 3rd person mode and telling the story, a concept which is carried through the novel. It is really a collection of 3 tales, all about the same place, all connecting in ways one wouldn’t (and didn’t) expect.
While this is, essentially, a love story, I didn’t feel as though it was the be-all-and-end-all of the plot. (which is why I left it out of my blurb). I was invested in all of the characters, feeling sorry for Lefevre as he descended to drink, a side effect of Marco’s meddling. I was genuinely interested to hear about the contortionist and Murray twins and Herr Theissen. These things and these people all make up the greater part of the story, and the circus in general is, strangely enough, a major plot point. The atmosphere that is created is amazing and so engrossing, I felt as though I could have been there, smelling caramel and eating cinnamon buns and watching the Illusionist perform feats of wonder under the stars. I’m gushing again.
Long story short; I’m having difficulty putting my reasons for loving this book into words. It is wonderfully descriptive, atmospheric, subtle and features a particularly brilliant scene involving a paper pirate ship, afloat on a sea of words, sailing towards the sunset. It’s all so lovely, even when it was dark and sinister and bad things were happening. Definitely a slow burner, and not much in the way off epic fights and bold statements, but a must for anyone who enjoys magic and mystery.