Monday, August 08, 2011

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (from the ARC, due September 2011) Doubleday, 387 pages

Even the cover art/text on the ARC is entrancing:"THIS ADVANCE READER'S EDITION ENTITLES THE HOLDER TO UNLIMITED ADMISSION/ NOT FOR SALE/ VIOLATORS WILL BE EXSANGUINATED." You might think that the threat is an idle one, but you would be wrong about that.

When you peer between the covers of THE NIGHT CIRCUS, prepare to leave your assumptions about magic beyond the pale and have your imagination take heady flight above the narrative that Erin Morgenstern has spun into filaments of the finest gold.

Set at the end of the 19th Century and moving across two decades, the story begins in early 1873 when Prospero the Enchanter receives an envelope addressed to him at the New York theatre where he is performing. It "contains a suicide note, and is... carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old girl," his daughter Celia, to whom he snarks, "she should have named you Miranda." Later that same year, Prospero (aka Hector Bowen) takes his daughter to the UK to meet another magician who calls himself Alexander and it is there that the gauntlet is thrown down for an ongoing duel between Celia and another young magician where the winner will take all, including, perhaps the other's life.

In his desire to prepare Celia for this life-long competition, Hector treats her brutally, almost sadistically, as she learns the power she has to repair inanimate objects and to heal her living, breathing self.

So much mysterious happens under the striped tents at Le Cirque des RĂªves and you will find yourself breathless with each new discovery as you trail memorable characters like outsider Bailey and his delightful true friends the twins Widget and Poppet who are born into that night circus dream life.

As the competition escalates between Celia and Marco, and you believe in each of their remarkable imaginative powers, you will wish alongside them that they may find a way out of this battle that is rooted in their instructors' egos.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS will entrance you. Just be prepared to pay its heady emotional price of admission.


Lynne Perednia said...

It's my best-loved book of the year.

Beth Hoffman said...

For some reason I was on the fence about this book, but your terrific review has convinced me to add it to my list. Thanks, Janet!