Deep in the middle of the world I am building in “City of Secrets” I was drawn to this novel by its promise of magic and enchantment.
“The circus arrives without warning” it begins, pulling the reader into to its dark and convoluted world where nothing is what it seems, either for those who come to the Night Circus, or the performers themselves. Everything is a game within a game, a labyrinth of stories that weave and merge together. Time is fractured adding to the sense of unreality as we move backwards and forwards through the years of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Also known as “Le Cirque des Reves” is the circus nothing more than a dream? It can only be entered at night, in the morning it disappears as mysteriously as it arrived and its most dedicated followers, who spend their lives attending its shows, if shows they can be called, because many, like the Ice Garden, are more of an installation, are known as reveurs. This a question posed, but never answered.
I love the strangeness of it all: the vivid depiction of the circus with its black and white big top, the smaller tents within it, each containing its own illusion and the performers who use magic and illusion to beguile and dazzle.
The novel is also a love story and for me this is where it did not quite hold its spell as I was never totally convinced by the two lovers. The characters I enjoyed most, were the twins Poppet and Widget, the red-haired twins who were born on the opening night and whose fate was inextricably linked with that of the circus and Bailey, the farm boy, who sneaks in one night and from then on is part of their world.
On the whole, however, I was fascinated by this book and having read it once might well go back to relive the experience of “The Night Circus.”