In one of the geek related podcasts I listen to I heard reference to The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s first novel. The various members of this podcast all recommended it
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Rêves”, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
I was rather skeptical going in as I was afraid it would be dark or nihilistic, but reviews by others on Goodreads mostly removed these concerns. Reading it I found I quite liked it and while not perfect was fairly enjoyable. The prose really drew me in and the stage is set and reset with a rich atmosphere.
The start of the story mainly revolves around the training of Celia by her father and this part of the story is rather dark as she is put through the training in a rather merciless manner. Despite this Celia is not warped by her father who uses her as a tool to compete against another magician in what is just another series of battles between them
The whole feel of the circus itself is quite intriguing along with the culture around the circus regarding fans that follow it as it travels. Some of the characters in the circus also add to the flavor of the novel and give it some depth.
My main problem with the novel is that the love affair between the two magicians is a bit contrived. It rings fairly true regarding Marcos, but it is just too sudden on the part of Celia. One minute she is weary of her rival in the game and the next she is in love with him. At least it seemed that way to me.
I liked the fairy tale aspect of the story and how the world of the night circus was expressed. A pretty imaginative story and the ending did not leave me disappointed. Certainly I will be awaiting to hear more from this author.