I know, this book was trendy a while ago. Why am I just now reading it? Well, to be honest, I picked it up when everyone else was reading it but couldn’t get into it. It’s very cloak-and-dagger in the beginning. It does take a bit of a commitment to really get into the story, but it’s completely worth it. Glad I picked it up again.
So we see Celia and Marco from their early years. And it’s not really clear until we’re almost at the end what’s going on here. But they are taken under the wings of magicians and pledged to some sort of contest. The timeline of the novel is a little all over place and once I got used to it, I loved it. We check in with them as they grow and learn their craft but most of the story is about the challenge itself.
The challenge is what I really enjoyed about this book, which makes sense since the book is named Night Circus and the circus is the focal point. It’s a magical circus—seems I’m all about the magic and fantasy books these days—and is all decked out in black and white which contrasts nicely with how fuzzy the rules of physics get when you’re there. Marco and Celia each contribute their skills to creating fantastical tents and creating wonder for the circus’s guests. These aren’t standard magic tricks, though Celia does perform as an illusionist. Instead you see frozen landscapes in the dead of summer and wishes stored in bottles by those who truly need them to come true.
The love story is a bit slow to come. It’s of course between Marco and Celia, a forbidden love to the extreme. They work to end the challenge once and for all, bringing their best to the table so it can be over and they can be together. As you would expect, things are not at all that simple and the book takes a dark turn as they look for a solution. This story takes place over several years, even the ending when they decide to bring the whole thing down around them and escape. The ending is very action-packed and suspenseful. But the story overall is a gradual one that highlights the strategy, the tension, and the stress they are all experiencing.
This book involves a great deal of people who get more and more complex as you go. The supporting cast here receives a great deal of attention. Including one character whose role is completely unknown until the very end. Yet you follow his entire childhood throughout the book. This is a complicated story that, once I got a handle on the main characters, kept me guessing and thinking. I was left with some questions that I feel were intentional by the author. It is admittedly a bit of a long ride, but it moves quickly when you are familiar with your surroundings and it’s very hard to put down.