Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus, follows the turn-of-the-century circus unlike any other. Only open at night, Le Cirque des Reves features jaw dropping wonders ranging from a stunning illusionist (one of the novel's protagonists), a tent filled with a garden of flowers made of ice that doesn't melt, a cloud maze and many more. Morgenstern's descriptive powers prove to be jawdropping feats time and again, and the depth of the concept makes for insightful writing and riveting reading. The plot may not be linear enough for some readers, as it is somewhat of an ensemble piece. But the novel does revolve around a central conflict, features well-crafted characters and a strong progression at its heart.
The primary plot of the novel follows two magicians, Marco and Celia, in a mysterious battle set up long ago by their mentors. The book might have benefitted from the challenge having more clarity to it--some more explanation of rules, how it came to be, etc.--it makes for a captivating plot between the two characters who, despite their showdown, become increasingly fond of one another.
Yes, this novel may have a love story with a circus as a backdrop. Though this concept might sound familiar, Morgenstern's execution of this novel, and the complex elements surrounding the novel make The Night Circus so much more. Intricate, sprawling and balanced, the novel's quirky cast of characters and inventive narration make this debut worthy of its praise.
Bottom Line: A very good fantasy novel, a great piece of historical fiction, an engaging debut novel. Perhaps some of the novel's mysteries should have been solved a little sooner or with more clarity, but this book bodes very well for Morgenstern's career. Four stars.
You can find Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is available at your local chain bookstore, online or at an independent bookstore near you (click here for a list). Also look to download the ebook on your Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iPad or other eBook reader.