It's taken me a few days to ponder what I want to say about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is just the sort of story that I love -- elements of fantasy, theatre, and art come together in gorgeous collaboration.
Ever since they were children, Celia and Marco have been magically bound to compete in a competition -- a sort of magician's duel between the two of them. The rules are unclear and though each has an older magician serving as a mentor, neither is forthcoming about how to play, or how to win. The setting for the competition is the Cirque des Rêves, a mysterious venue that travels about unpredictably and opens only after dark. With its black and white color scheme, its exotic performers and mysterious tents, the circus does seem like a dreamscape. Celia and Marco manipulate the circus from every angle, crafting tents and attractions with subtle magic and delicate illusions. At first, Celia and Marco don't even know who they are competing against, but eventually they come to recognize each other, and to respect each other . . . and then, inevitably, to love each other. How can they be in love and still compete? What will happen to the circus if one or both of them leaves the competition? And how is the competition to be won, in the end?
This is a rare, beautiful book that left me longing for the chance to visit the Night Circus myself. To sum it up in one word:
(Review copy borrowed through my library system.)