The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Against the backdrop of a dreamlike traveling circus, two magicians pit their powers against each other in a battle royale complicated by the transcendent love growing in spite of the rigid constraints of the game.

I had low-ish expectations for The Night Circus. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the weird plot description, and the glowing reviews had me suspicious that the book was all superficial charm.

I could not put the book down. I was utterly transported into the world of the circus, where every tent holds ethereal, poetic, supernatural wonders, like a labyrinth that keeps growing new rooms, or a chamber filled with vials that hold scents evoking specific times and places and memories.

The core of the book is a love story between Marco and Celia, two magicians bound in childhood in a mystical competition, trained to hide their powers in plain sight in a world that doesn’t know that magic is real. I totally fell for it, completely and utterly and heartbreakingly. I loved every detail, believed every nuance, and wished the book weren’t over quite so soon. I was reminded of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (and I don’t think I’m the only one), but this book had so much more heart and soul that I know I won’t soon forget it, the way I did with Jonathan Strange.

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