“"The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there when yesterday it was not."
The Night Circus is a fantastical venue. It is a circus that is only open from dusk until dawn. It is themed in black and white and shades of grey. It is not a circus that one views from afar, but rather explores up close. There are numerous small tents set up around the circus. Circus goers are able to walk around the circus and chose which tents they wish to visit, from a fortune teller, to contortionists, illusionists, and more.
Celia Bowen is an illusionist. From a young age, she was brought up by her father, Hector, to grow her skills. One day, she will be pitted against another and will have to outlast him. She is not told who he is or what the challenge will be. The challenge turns out to be much more than she could have imagined. Many lives are involved and, even the circus itself, depends upon the outcome of the challenge.
This was a wonderful read! I was tempted to give it just 4 stars because I would have liked the ending to be a bit different, though I'm not quite sure how. In the end, I gave it 5 stars because of how it made me feel throughout the book. I found not just the story, but the words the author chose to tell the story, enchanting. It is infinitely quotable for me and there are some passages that are just wonderful. I want a clock like the one Theissen made for the circus; it sounds amazing. I want to visit the Night Circus myself, if not to be part of the circus itself, then to be a Reveur. I want to meet Celia and Marcus, Widget and Poppet. I want to be in their world. I can ask no more of a book than to pull me into its world so deeply.
Some great quotes and passages from the book:
"It was like nothing he had ever seen. The lights, the costumes, it was all so different. As though he had escaped his everyday life and wandered into another world."
"This is the precise flavor that the circus should be. Unusual yet beautiful. Provocative while remaining elegant."
"The finished clock is resplendent. At first glance it is simply a clock, a rather large black clock with a white face and a silver pendulum. ... But that is before it is wound. Before it begins to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly. Then, then it becomes something else. The changes are slow. First, the color changes in the face, shifts from white to grey, and then there are clouds that float across it, disappearing when they reach the opposite side. Meanwhile, bits of the body of the clock expand and contract, like pieces of a puzzle. As though the clock is falling apart, slowly and gracefully. All of this takes hours. ... After midnight the clock begins to once more fold in on itself. The face lightens and the clouds return. ... By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream."
"The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones."
"It is these aficionados, these reveurs, who see the details in the bigger picture of the circus. They see the nuance of the costumes, the intricacy of the signs. ... They are enthusiasts, devotees. Addicts. Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent."
"Secrets have power, ... And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them."
""Why haven't you asked me how I do my tricks?" ... "Because I do not wish to know... I prefer to remain unenlightened, to better appreciate the dark.""
"You're in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes, that's enough."
"I find I think of myself not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus. To visit the circus again, if only in their minds, when they are unable to attend it physically. I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will. When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn't it?"
"Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast ... someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. ... There are many kinds of magic, after all."”