Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Genre: YA, historical fiction, magical realism
First published: 2011
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Synopsis: In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire. At the heart of the circus is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter’s daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer’s apprentice.
This is a weird book for me to review. I had a hard time deciding what rating to give it. Sometimes it felt like a 5 star book, other times like a 4 star book. I think my main problem with it was that it had a very fragmented timeline and it was difficult at times to tell where in time you were.
This is a very slow-burn book. I personally didn’t mind that much because I enjoy these type of stories, but it does require patience. You as the reader sort of have an idea of what’s going on, but the characters don’t and it takes them forever to figure it out, which can be a bit frustrating.
Now on to the things that I loved about this book and which truly make it a book worth reading. The atmosphere. That is the best thing about this book. The way that it’s written is so magical and atmospheric and it just transports you into this wonderful, magical circus. It’s beautiful. There are little interludes from time to time that are told from the perspective of someone attending the circus and it just really transports you there and you get to experience the circus.
The characters. It’s so interesting to see the dynamics between the people who know what’s going on, those who have no idea what’s going on and those who have some idea of what’s going on. I thought that was so well done and so interesting to read about. Also, the two main… antagonists, I suppose, are so morally grey. I love those types of characters who are not quite entirely aware of how warped their worldview is. I find them so interesting to read about. It explores the idea of losing one’s humanity as time goes by, which I found really interesting and I thought it was very well done.
I liked the different perspectives of the different characters on the circus. I can’t say much without spoilers, but I like the idea of how the same thing can mean such monumentally different things to different people. And also how those people interacted with each other and with the circus. Again, I thought it was so well done.
I don’t really know what else to say without giving too much away. It’s a difficult book to review. You have to experience it for yourself and I don’t think it really can be explained without ruining it. So I recommend just going into it and enjoying the experience.