You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Reves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.- Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
This past month was her turn to host book club and the book was selected. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. A book about two aged magicians who pick apprentices and bind them against each other in competition. The venue of the latest round of competition was the Night Circus (Le Cirque des Rêves).
I really enjoy books about magic where the practitioners are called magicians (not wizards, mages, spell casters, ...) and I was really impressed with the magic as being truly magical an a fanciful, mysterious and imaginative way. It is such a wonderful contrast to the very pedestrian magic of the Harry Potter series in which the take on the magical world is similar to the Flinstone's take on the stone age world: take all the things modern man uses technology for and mindlessly replace it with a boring magical equivalent that has a latin-y word associated with it. This is not the magic of The Night Circus where there are cloud mazes, stories in bottles and gardens made entirely of ice. The magic is almost real. Almost.
The book was also full of little touches. One of the characters was the tarot card reader of the circus and she would often flip a few cards as part of other activities going on. I was intrigued that the author rarely explained what the cards meant. She just matter-of-factly described a card flipped as the querent, the card that covers and the card that crosses, and then provided no interpretation. I read tarot quite a lot during the end of high school and start of college and have a decent memory of the major arcana. I was constantly impressed. The author, clearly understanding tarot, would lay out major plot themes with the cards and leave the foreshadowing available only to someone who understand what the meant or maybe bothered to look it up. The Hanging Man, crossed by Temperance. Yes, I can see what lies in your future.
Fun read. Though, I think in the grand scheme of things, you should wait for the movie. Though I know it won't be, I would sure like to see Tim Burton do this with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. That would be quite a show.