The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is FANTASTICAL! If nothing else, this books creates a world of fantasy and charm and magic that is just awe inspiring. The attention to detail and the writing was phenomenal. For example:
When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
Stretched across the top of the gates, hidden in curls of iron, more firefly-like lights flicker to life. They pop as they brighten, some accompanied by a shower of glowing white sparks and a bit of smoke. They people nearest the gates take a few steps back....
Le Cirque des Reves
Some in the crowd smile knowingly, while others frown and look questionably at their neighbors. A child near you tugs on the mother's sleeve, begging to know what it says.
"The Circus of Dream," comes the reply. The girl smiles delightedly.
Then the iron gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition. They swing outwards, inviting the crowd inside.
Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.
Seriously! Tell me you did not get the chills reading that!? That's before the first chapter even begins! The writing continues in this fashion and the amount of detail is astounding. Usually, I can get overwhelmed with extreme details but the author was describing something so unique and interesting (and so thoroughly) that I could picture it in my head and even imagine the whiffs of caramel in the air. So, we can agree, the writing was very well done.
Where I begin to lose my love for this story is the actual love story! The two main characters don't even have a significant interaction until around page 200. Granted, the story built up their pasts and how they are essentially destined for each other but there was no real build up to their relationship. The only thing that redeemed this love story for me was towards the very end when the previous competitor explained their relationship with their challenger. That seemed to present the idea that they were destined for one another and it was more significant than a normal relationship.
"I chose [Marco] too well." The man in the grey suit leans into the table, as though he might whisper his words conspiratorially, but the tenor of his voice does not change. "That was the mistake, you realize. They were too well matched. Too taken with each other to be competitive. And now they can never be separated. Pity."
I still wish there was more of a love story and the lack thereof made this book move very, very slowly for me. Despite the level of writing, I found myself not being very interested in what happened next. I enjoyed the ending but felt it took a long time to get there.
On a different note, I wish I would have paid more attention to the time frames at the beginning of each chapter. This book jumps around a lot and I could follow it for the most part but if I read it again, I would pay attention to the specific months and dates. I just got bored and skimmed over them which I think hindered part of my experience.
So, what can you take away from this review? The writing is awesome and creates a whole world inside your head that makes you sad because the night circus does not actually exist, even though it feels as though it does. The love story is lacking. Dates are important. Capiche?