Written by Erin Morgenstern

Published by Anchor, July 3 2012

My star rating: 5 stars

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Before I try to piece together a review of this book, I need to explain a few things. I’ve read hundreds of books in my life and I’ve never had a more difficult time reviewing or explaining a book. If you’ve read this one already then you’ll understand and even possibly laugh at this statement. To explain this book, or even your feelings about it, is impossible. This is a book that is not read – it is experienced. While reading it, and now even after, I feel as though I was in a dream. So if none of what I say from here on out makes any sense, I’m sorry!

There’s one word I can use for this book and one word only – BEAUTIFUL! The atmosphere and ambiance the author created is intoxicating and dream like. This book is incredibly descriptive which is something that I normally dread, but this time I drank up every word. The detail never gets the chance to bog you down either. And in the grand scheme of things – this book is slow. Not a whole lot seems to be happening, yet every single thing that happens is another piece to the puzzle. There’s a mysterious game being played within the circus and, whether they know it or not, everyone is a part of it. If you’re looking for something fast paced then this one is not for you, but if you’re looking for something to pull you in to a beautiful world and reveal the story in layers then this is it! The world building is OUTSTANDING!!! If you read the first two chapters I just guarantee that this book will suck you in and never spit you out.

The characters are just as good as the scenes. There are no small parts in this book either. The two main characters (Celia and Marco) are the main components to the game, but every single person associated with the circus has a role to play. Because of that role each of the characters lives are explored and you get the chance to see their emotions, past, present, and (sometimes) future.

The game itself is the biggest mystery. What are the rules? How does one win? What happens to the loser? Who is a player and who is a pawn? What does the circus have to do with the game? So many questions pop up throughout and each is answered as if you are peeling the layers of an orange. At the end you’re left with something sweet and sparkly that makes you happy.

I wish that I could explain this more (or better) and I wish that I could explain exactly why I love this book. But as I said, this is a weird one to review. All I know is that my time spent in this dream world was one of a kind and something I will carry with me always. I know that my review is not doing this book justice. Not even close. But if you do choose to read this then I hope you enjoy!