After reading that The Night Circus failed to live up to Beth and Carrie‘s expectations from the considerable hype, I was less excited to read this novel. I waited patiently until it came up in the library queue, and when it did, I picked it up out of mild (instead of burning) curiosity. Because my hopes had been dampened, I may have enjoyed this book much more than had I read it a couple months earlier. A short synopsis, as this is likely the 1387th review you’ve seen on this book:
- Setting: An enchanting, entirely black and white circus, open only at night, that travels without notice – one never knows when or where it will show up or how long it will stay.
- Plot: two young children are chosen to compete in a mysterious duel of magic and illusion, a competition for which they train throughout their childhood, and once begun lasts years with no clear rules or stakes or end.
- Themes: chaos vs. order and control, innate vs. learned ability, illusion vs. reality, time and timing – fate vs free will.
People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told to see.
This is not magic. This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it.
Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.
Overall, I found this to be an incredibly enjoyable and captivating read, making me wish such a whimsical circus would appear randomly in my town, just to get a taste of the impossible even if for only a moment.