Erin Morgenstern creates magic in her debut novel, The Night Circus. My only regret with this book is that I didn't read it sooner. It was just, just... just.
The circus arrives without warning. Les Cirque des Rêves follows no schedule. One day there's an open, empty field, and the next morning there appears circus tents surrounded by a black metal fence with a gate that states the circus opens after dark. It sits empty and still during daylight hours. But at night... acts and shows that seem other-worldly. The illusions are perfectly wrought, the animals exquisite. Each tent is more fantastic than the last. Each performer is more perfect than imagined. Then, one morning, the field is again empty.
The tale of the circus is told through the relationship of two magicians — and the players who compete in the game.
These friends (nemesis?) have carried on this competition for longer than either of them can remember. Each chooses a person who he thinks is worthy and capable. Each player is marked by the opposing leader, after which the training begins. At some point, the competition begins. There is no quitting, and only one can win. But exactly what that means is lost on the players until it's too late.
Morgenstern creates a fantastic tale that is unequaled in any tale I've yet to read. Her writing is as magical as the stories she tells. The story of the magicians and their competition are woven through the book, interspersed by descriptions of circus attractions.
The story did not go where I expected: I did not see most of it coming, which made it even better.
I wish any description I gave could do the book justice, but I fear that my words are clumsy. Morgenstern language is finely tuned, wonderfully wrought and so, so lovely. I wept as I read the last chapter — I was so glad to have read it, it was perfect to the very last punctuation mark, and I found it flawless and exquisite.
Please, please read this book. Please.