The We Love This Book team chooses its books of the year for 2011
‘Magical’ is a term too often thrown at a novel that toys with any reality outside the concrete, but Morgernstern’s debut deserves the term wholeheartedly.
A lush, luxurious read that sits neatly between young adult and adult literature of the brisk and entertaining type, it follows the fortunes of two magicians/star-crossed lovers, whose (real) acts of magic play out as a soft, slow game of one-upmanship within Le Cirque des Reves, or the "Night Circus", a wondrous venue full of impossibilities housed in black and white tents. Set at the turn of the 20th century, young magicians Celia and Marco are destined for greatness but bound by the ancient laws of magic their mentors have encircled them with.
True, the characters are largely plot devices, but the same could be said of classic myth or fable. The sensory descriptions of food, sights and smells are what take the book beyond the average and make it something to dive into face first.