A good mystery can keep anyone up late into the night. In fact, some of my earliest reading memories are of reading Mary Higgins Clark’s Daddy’s Little Girl, under the covers (despite the hot summer air around me) with a booklight. It was the most mysterious, not to mention the most psychologically terrifying, book I had ever read, and I just had to know how it ended.
Now, I don’t go in for horror movies, and I cringe at the sight of too much gore (even no shows like House), but I love something mysterious that keeps me up at night trying to figure it out.
I don’t even know how to describe this novel in a way that will do it justice.
It’s bursting with prose so smooth and sparkly that every word seems to be dripping with magic, characters complex and curious enough to keep you guessing what they’ll do next, and a plot that’s the perfect mix of mystery and suspense to keep you turning pages at speeds you wouldn’t have thought possible.
In short, I couldn’t put it down.
It consumed every second of my waking life, and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about reading it.
At first glance it’s the story of a circus. But, unlike a regular circus, Le Cirque des Rêves opens its doors only after the sun goes down. A strange, but harmless, condition masks a much larger secret. Because, at its heart, the circus is more than entertainment. It’s the stage for a fierce competition of skills. Celia and Marco, the students of two opposing masters of the magical arts, spend the novel pitting their strengths against each other, while working together to make The Circus of Dreams an unforgettable masterpiece of art, architecture, and impossible feats.
“Secrets have power, and that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours. This is, in part, why there is less magic in the world today. Magic is secret and secrets are magic, after all, and years upon years of teaching and sharing magic and worse.”
Morgenstern is right, secrets do have power, and I won’t diminish this novel’s power by spilling its secrets here, in writing. But in the case of her delightful debut, sharing the secrets only makes them better and stronger. If you don’t believe me, read it yourself. I’d love to hear your take.
By the end of The Night Circus I was obsessed. I felt like one of the rêveurs who are, in the story, cult followers of the circus and keepers of its history.
“It is these aficionados, these rêveurs, who see the details in the bigger picture of the circus. They see the nuance of the costumes, the intricacy of the signs. They buy sugar flowers and do not eat them, wrapping them in paper instead and carefully bringing them home. They are enthusiasts, devotees. Addicts. Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent.”
This book, like the circus itself, charmed me until it was all I cared about, and now, looking back, it seems like a dream. I guess I may have to read it again to confirm it was real. Trust me, you’ll feel the same once you sink your teeth into it.
Overall Reaction: I need more of this. More from this author, more of this story, more of everything.
Up Next Week: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira