The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
The Night Circus was dark, mysterious, and thrilling. It enchanted me right from the first sentence. I couldn't put this down!
The story is told in both third person POV and second person POV (when the speaker in the novel directs their speech to the reader). The book opens with the speaker talking to you explaining what the circus is and your experience in it. Then it cuts to the actual story in third person POV.
I'll be honest with you: this book was brilliantly written, and when I finished I was really upset that I didn't have the paperback edition which features a bonus chapter, but I was satisfied. HOWEVER, this book was very confusing at first, and it took me awhile to get used to the changing POV's, who the characters were and what year we were in.
The beginning is linear for a first couple chapters, then jumps from 1884 to 1897, and back again. It continues to jump from past (anything before 1902) and the present (1902), till the ending of the novel in 1903. And there are various POV's. Most of what happens in the past is told in the POV of those involved with the making of the circus, but it mostly centres around Celia and Marco, the main reason why the circus exists (I'll get to more on that later). The present story is told from the POV of Bailey Clarke, the boy we meet when the story first jumps from 1884 to 1897.
Celia and Marco are our main characters, and our main couple in the story. In the beginning of the story, a young Celia is orphaned after her mother commits suicide and her deranged father signs her up for a challenge where she'll have to defeat her opponent using her illusion skills. This in turn, leads the man her father placed a bet with to look for another student with natural unnatural abilities like Celia: an orphaned Marco. The two are trained separately, and have no idea as to what is going on, except for the fact that they have to use their powers.
When the time comes, they both end up working with Chandresh Christophe Lefevre (sorry, there's supposed to be an accent grave there, but I can't insert it right now) to create the circus: Celia being part of the circus act, it's transportation, and it's function, and Marco being part of the behind the scenes aspect of creating different tents, venues etc. It isn't till later that the two realize that they're in love, and that they can't escape the circus they build together. Because the circus isn't a circus: it's where they're supposed to kill each other. But there's a problem: they are the circus, they both keep it alive, but if one of them dies, it'll die and so will everyone else.
Our other MC's are Bailey, Poppet and Widget (who are tied to the circus), and they tie with both the past and present. We see how their characters affect what will happen with Celia and Marco's characters, and the fate of both the circus and it's inhabitants.
This story is not easy to explain, and despite my rough start with it, I fell in love with it. There were parts in the story that I found dragged on, but it all connected with the ending and it wrapped up nicely. This book was FULL of imager, symbols, allusions, and metaphors, and I'm really wondering as to why we don't use this book as a novel study in school. We can read the Great Gatsby and the Tale of Two Cities, but not this? I really did feel like I was reading something in school because I was doing so much research for symbols, character name meanings (especially Celia and her father's because there's a LOT of Shakespeare allusions), but it wasn't a novel study. This book was entertaining, and it made your brain thing. I loved it so much.
I loved the character development, and I really love the crazy switching POV and time jumps because it ties together perfectly and creates something so unique that I find I rarely find in books. The challenge and the whole mystery of Celia and Marco's binding kind of made me question everything before but I found my own meaning, and I found a meaning to the whole circus.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading...I actually have no idea what to categorize this book as. I want to say high fantasy, but I also want to say paranormal, and mystery, and adventure, and romance...anyways. Just read this book, you'll like it! But I DO highly recommend it for fans of Laini Taylor, because the way the story jumped was similar to her writing style.
But seriously, READ THIS BOOK! The reason why it's so long and a little confusing is because the author made it a standalone, and it couldn't drag on. You'll love how everything comes together, I promise you. And you'll love how the story 'continues' with the last pages. It's creepy, enthralling and mysterious. GO READ THE NIGHT CIRCUS!