I finally caved in and read this book. Well, listened to the audio anyways. After the announcement of Caraval (amazing book, btw) coming to shelves in January 2017, people that read that book swore it reminded them of this book, The Night Circus. I gave in to my curiousity and marked this off of my TBR. I was not as impressed with this as I wanted to be. Honestly, I was a bit bored with it. Let me explain.
This is the story of Celia and Marco. When they were very young, two men promised these kids would battle against each other until there was one victor. Now this isn’t the type of match where they fight a bloody battle, instead it is one of magic and illusion. Celia and Marco are both trained very differently on how to use their gifts. They both know they are fighting for the honor of their guardians, but they don’t know who they are fighting until much later. Enter the Le Cirque des Rêves, a mysterious circus that comes only at night. This circus is where the battle takes place. In front of fans that don’t know this is a competition, Celia and Marco try to outdo each other. Everything changes when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary. Soon, these two change their battle to a collaboration. They use their gifts to start impressing one another, not trying to win the game. And before they know it, these two start to fall in love. Their masters certainly do not like where this is going so they step up the consequences and things start to become very dangerous for the two. Will the two young illusionists continue to battle one another until only one remains? Or will they find a way out of this night circus so they can be together?
The only way I could compare this book to Caraval is by the use of illusions and a circus/carinval setting – that was it. I fully believe that Caraval is a book all its own. The book I actually compared this to is The Crown’s Game. It felt like The Crown’s Game took a huge portion of its storyline from this book. Here is what I mean: two performers (a male and a female) with extrodinary talent for magic and illusions, raised from a young age and told they had to destroy the other, forced to battle one another and in the end, fall in love with each other. Sounds like the same book, doesn’t it? If I don’t tell you which book is which, you won’t be able to tell which I am referring to. As a result, I couldn’t read this as a seperate story as I felt like I had already read it. Granted, this book came out a while ago but it doesn’t change the fact that it has been redone only with the stage as a kingdom, not a circus. Still, you get the idea. That bothered me so much about the two books and I ended up not liking this as much as I could have.
The characters were endearing at times and I did enjoy Celia and Marco. I did like Marco a little bit more because he just felt more sincere. Celia was trying so hard to impress her dad that she started to lose track of who she was. Marco never lost that in himself. With that being said, there were so many minor characters that it was hard to keep up with them. All of the circus performers had a role in the story and as such they all had backstories. That felt like just too much to keep up with.
The pacing nearly put me to sleep. I’ve already admitted that I had moments were I was bored with this story. I also had moments where I wanted to stop the audio and move to another story because this was just not doing it for me. There would be pages and pages (or several very long minutes?) where the author went into great detail about the dress a guest was wearing or the paintings on the wall of the house she was visiting. That’s fine and all, but it was overkill to me. It is one thing to bring the reader into the narrative but it is another to beat them to death with details.
Overall I am glad I read this story but I think I fell for the hype. This did not blow my hair back and it did not wow me. I was looking for that but I just could not find it in this story. I am on the fence about recommending this book to anyone because I did not enjoy it like others did. I will only say this: If you liked The Crown’s Game, then you should read this book.