Generally when you read a book, what draws you in and drags you along is a connection to the characters. You want to watch them grow and develop, overcome obstacles, come out on the other side as better people. You want them to make all the right decisions, and have a happily ever after.
You’ll get that in The Night Circus. You’ll watch Celia and Marco grow into themselves, their skills and their relationship. You’ll see Bailey find his place in the world. You will be delighted watching Poppet and Widget grow. And it will be wonderful from start to finish. But the blurb is misleading, it’s not really about Celia and Marco duelling or falling in love, and the circus is far more than merely a stage.
I found that the characters paled in comparison to the circus itself, Le Cirque des Rêves. The circus of dreams indeed. Instead of the location providing a convenient backdrop against which the characters perform, it is the main focus, it is the challenge. The detail that goes into creating the atmosphere, the imagery that pulls you in, taunts and tempts you from beginning to end is far more compelling than any character in the book.
This book is not without flaws. The timeline is difficult to follow (and for the most part, I ignored it). It was difficult to be emotionally invested in the characters. The story I read was not the story described in the blurb. Just like with a dream, there will be questions left not fully answered and yet somehow tied up just a bit too neatly. But I will read this book many, many times, simply to revisit the wonders in the circus, and to pretend, just for a little while, that such a spectacular and wondrous place can exist.
When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice up of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of the 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.