The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.
The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be seen. No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black-and-white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with an elaborate wrought-iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.
But it's not open for business. Not just yet.
I read a review of The Night Circus in People magazine and was intrigued by it, so I put myself on the waitlist at my local library for it and just now have received it. It is Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, and as another reviewer online said: "The hype is justified." Imagine Water for Elephants but fifty times better, with more mystery and intrigue surrounding its characters.
The whole idea of the "challenge" was interesting, as was the circus, but the real story is that of the circus's players and the "magic" upon them. With the exception of the Murray Twins, no one has really aged in the 16 years or so that the book encompasses, and although this is disconcerting, the players tend not to think about it. What is also interesting is how Celia and Marco struggle with the challenge - not because they are not talented, but because they are against it, and wish to stop the game, but physically cannot, as they are magically bound to compete in it.
Ms. Morgenstern's age is not listed online, though she appears to be 21 or 22 (which makes the 24-year-old me super lazy for not writing a novel yet ...), and I hope to see more from this new talent.
4 stars out of 5.
-Edit: the author is actually 33! Wow.