Because all of life is stories.
The Circus arrives without warning.
The first line of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus applies as well to the novel as a whole as it does to the titular Night Circus. Morgenstern’s debut novel is a romance at heart, but not a romance between people, though the book does include several of those. It is a romance with wonder. With your inner child.
It opens at dusk and closes at dawn. Inside you enter a world of black and white. Dozens of tents surround you. The garden made of ice. The jars filled with memories of smells. Twin acrobats that perform without a net. A magician that really disappears. The tattooed contortionist. All guaranteed to delight and amaze.
But as you wander through the night, you may begin to feel that something about this place is…different. Of course this is the most amazing place you’ve ever been to…but that isn’t quite it. Something is off. There is something old here. Something powerful. And though you might guess at it, you just can’t place it. Is it that all the performers seem ageless, rather than young? Or that everything is just a little bit too real? The feeling that the strings might not just be well hidden, but not there at all?
Erin Morgenstern’s debut is at turns a fantasy, a romance, and a mystery. While it borrow from all of these genres it make sure not to spend too much time in one place for too long. There is always another attraction just a minute away. Her characters, even and sometimes especially the ones that aren’t performers are wonderful. Even if they do sometimes border on trope. Her words are poetic in a way that most veteran writers never manage to grasp. In the tradition of Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, Morgenstern takes us on a journey full of amazement and intrigue, with a buildup to an ending that is shocking, but couldn’t have happened any differently.
This is Le Cirque des Reves.
It is beautiful. Beautiful and wondrous beyond dreaming. Dangerous beyond imagining.
You may want a ticket.