Wednesday, January 30, 2013

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

I love this oxymoron—magical realism.  This book falls squarely in that category, and it did not immediately draw me in.  Now that Harry Potter's adventures are finished, I wasn't sure if I was really up for more wizardry.  Celia and Marco are two young magicians who have been bound into a competition against one another, without either knowing who their adversary is.  The venue is a very special circus that seems to be sort of a combination of Cirque du Soleil, Hogwarts, and Alice in Wonderland.  Le Cirque des Reves (Circus of Dreams) runs from dusk to dawn (the time for dreams, of course) and gives both illusionists an opportunity to showcase their extraordinary talents, which far exceed those of mortal man.  The circus also gives the author a chance to showcase her vast imagination for what would make for a truly stunning visitors' experience, if the laws of the universe did not apply.  The storyline occasionally flits forward a few years to Bailey, a young man at a crossroads, uncertain whether he should create his own way by going to Harvard, or bend to paternal pressure to take over the farm.  He becomes entangled with one of the circus performers, who may offer a third option.  The author really cast a spell on me, though, with the love story that develops between Celia and Marco, even as they discover that they are rivals in their inescapable duel.  Their connection is so electric that it leaps off the page, proving once again that love is more magical than any wishing tree, labyrinth, or ice garden.

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