‘The Night Circus’ a magical debut

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

And so begins the fanciful story of “The Night Circus,” a fantastical extravaganza, one that opens only at night, and one that features all of its acts, performers and backgrounds in shades of black and white. But even in black and white, there are nuances of color reflected in the words of author Erin Morgenstern as she creates a beautiful story that will light the imaginations of readers.

Morgenstern tells the story of two gifted young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who are pitted against each other in a lengthy competition with vague rules. Le Cirque de Reves (the Circus of Dreams) is the battlefield, and it soon attracts a faithful following of “reveurs” (dreamers) who follow it from town to town, continent to continent.

While Celia and Marco are the focus of the story, a secondary plotline follows Bailey, a country boy who becomes linked to the circus through a childhood encounter. His memories of the circus remain with him as he grows, and his fondness for the show and its performers eventually leads to him having a key role in future events.

"The Night Circus" is full of weird and wonderful characters, including Celia’s villainous father, Hector; his rival, Alexander, the man in the gray suit; and Poppet and Widget, the amazing twins who were born on the opening night of the circus.

These are not characters you expect to identify or sympathize with, this is a show after all and they are there to entertain you just like the various tents that house visually stunning scenes: the Ice Garden, the Cloud Maze, the Labyrinth, the Wishing Tree. But you soon find yourself engrossed in the lives of these wondrous people, longing to visit the magical circus to which they are all bound.

I was totally enthralled with this much anticipated debut novel. Morgenstern proves herself to be a talented storyteller, weaving together elements of romance, mystery and fantasy while creating a whole cast of engaging characters. "The Night Circus" is a brilliant fairy tale for readers who still crave a little magic and whimsy.

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