Pardon me while I blink my way back out into the sunlight like one of the Mole People, but I've only just emeged from the immersive experience of reading The Night Circus. This stylish debut novel by Erin Morgenstern runs on dark romance and imaginative gusto; it's a glamorous, dream-haunted fable of love, magic, sacrifice, and redemption.
The eponymous Le Cirque des Reves, is only open from sunset to sunrise. Its black-and-white striped tents and shadowy pathways house acrobats, living statues, an illusionist, a contortionist, and a fortune teller, along with many more esoteric entertainments—jars of olfactory memories, a Labyrinth of endless magical rooms, a shimmering Ice Garden, a meditative Pool of Tears.
Most of the action occurs around the turn of the last century; clockwork machinery, bowler hats, and velvet gowns abound, but to label the story steampunk would be to miss the scope of Morgenstern's complex design. Within these dreamlike pages are echoes of Shakespeare and Arthuriana , and shimmering peals of fairy tales and folklore, delivered in evocative, sensory prose that intioxicates with the sights, sounds, scents and feel of this distinctive, enchanted world.
Morgenstern manages to keep all her delicate balls of plot, character, fate, and desire spinning in the air. Dreams are the magic of life, in her world, and The Night Circus appeals to the dreamer in all of us.
I just posted a longer review here, complete with cool links! Feel free to check it out.