I’ve wanted to read “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern for quite some time now. I’m only a third of the way in, but I have to say, it’s pretty brilliantly written. I did almost put it down in the beginning because it is emotionally brutal at times (especially considering its premise is using humans as pawns in a game meant to entertain the players), but the concept of the circus itself is fascinating and the imagery is dazzling. It makes me want to attend a Cirque du Soleil performance or go see a magic show or something. The only thing really lacking thus far is the character development of the leads, which I am hoping will pick up as the love story develops, but the imagery almost makes you forget that you want to know these shadow-in-the-night-as-of-yet figures. Oh, Erin Morgenstern, you play this game very well…
Now, for a quick plot summary up to the chapter entitled “Chaperoned” (p. 158 of the paperback):
A cold-hearted illusionist by the stage name of Prospero is suddenly delivered a child–his daughter–after the woman who bore her committed suicide. (Seriously, this is what you start with?!) Seeing that she has inherited his illusionist abilities, which are indeed magical/paranormal in this universe, he decides to train her as his pawn in a game he plays with another magician. They’re very shadowy about the terms, but I surmise it is to see who can produce the better illusionist. He drills her and drills her in the art, to the point of torturing her, once shattering her wrist so that she must heal it with her abilities. He seems to care nothing for her, and through a trick gone awry, turns transparent and must have Celia make her debut earlier than it seems he had planned, though he does follow her as a sort of ghost. It is at this point Celia claims she is married, and, with Marco’s skill with binding, and his master binding him with a ring earlier, it seems fairly clear who she is married to, though these two have not yet met.
We are also introduced to Prospero’s counterpart, a magician by the stage name of Alexander, who finds an orphan to raise as his pawn by means of isolating him and making him essentially learn by rote memorization the arts of illusion. This young man, Marco, grows up to help Alexander’s associate (Maybe? It is unclear…) establish the Night Circus, though Lefevre has no idea of Marco’s origins as an illusionist. Celia comes to audition for the part of the illusionist, and wins it brilliantly, and thus, the Night Circus is established.
During this time, we also meet several other players, among them, a boy by the name of Bailey, who sneaks onto the circus grounds on a dare by his older sister. This is strictly forbidden and a sign proclaims that any outsider caught on circus grounds between dawn and dusk will be exsanguinated. A little red-headed girl catches him and shows him out, giving him her glove as his token to prove that he completed the dare. Later on, he ventures back.
Marco has met a young woman by the name of Isobel, and clearly they are more than friends at this point, though as Marco grows more consumed by the Night Circus, he ignores her more and more, especially after the grand success of the grand opening of the Night Circus.
Now, some time is passed and I’m in a bit of a lull, but we’ll see how the rest of the book goes as Marco and Celia are doubtless drawn inexorably to each other and everything unravels around them (if the summary on the back is to be believed, anyway)… ‘Til then!