I rated this book on Goodreads a 3/5, but it’s more like a 3.5. This was a really interesting book. It follows this competition between two magicians/illusionists. They choose two students and set them up against each other. The challenge takes place in a circus that opens at sunset and closes at dawn. We follow their game over nearly forty years, seeing all kinds of dynamic characters and enchanting settings.
First, the good:
Erin Morgenstern knows how to describe a setting. She pulls you in with sensory details that place you in the midst of these character’s lives. It’s such an entrancing book with interesting characters. It’s so imaginative, and I found myself wanting to write my own book about some kind of night circus hehe
The romance between Marco and Celia had a slow build, but once it grew it was kind of intoxicating. I liked the dynamics between them. Those were my favorite parts, when they had those stolen moments. I couldn’t put the book down at those parts.
And the bad:
It’s a slow book. There are a variety of different subplots and random offshoots and you have no idea how they all tie together until the end. I found myself skimming stuff and I feel like I didn’t actually miss that much.
Most of the book is a distant, semi-omniscient POV. I felt like I was watching from afar instead of being inside of these characters’ heads. This worked for a lot of the story because the narrative is so widespread and a lot of the information you find out through this POV is necessary, but it still felt like something was missing. I would have liked more scenes between Marco and Celia and less of the Thiessen and the reveurs.
The climax was a little anti-climatic, actually. It felt kind of deus ex machina, but I did skim parts that were kind of important to the climax, so maybe I missed something.
As you can see, I’m kind of torn about this book. I loved Marco and Celia and I wanted more of that. The way they slowly fell in love, the tents they made for each other, etc. That was the strength of the book in my opinion. You can have all the pretty description in the world but if you don’t have characters for the readers to connect to, the book fails. Fortunately, I don’t think this book failed at all, but I still wish there was more time with Marco and Celia.