Who knew what would happen when Prospero the Enchanter is delivered a young girl – his daughter – to raise one fateful evening? Although he does not relish the prospect of fatherhood, Prospero finds in Celia a keen mind and a natural talent for the real magic he disguises in his shows as petty illusions.
Made proud by the girl’s speedy progress, Prospero commits the ultimate betrayal and challenges a rival magician – whose bent is to keep magic hidden and quiet – to a duel. Alexander must choose and train his own student to face Celia in the challenge. However, what neither Celia nor her rival Marco know, is that the challenge to which they find themselves inextricably bound, is to the death.
Years pass, and a site for the challenge is chosen – A Night Circus designed to wonder and amaze. Celia is immediately recognised by Marco as his rival, as the illusions she creates as the show’s enchanter are so real. In the shadows, Marco disguises himself as a humble clerk for the proprietor. The each design more dazzling spectacles for the circus, each amazed and admiring of the work of the other. Without really knowing each other, already they are beginning to fall a little bit in love.
As time passes, they each recognise in each other a kindred lonely spirit looking for love. And as their love deepens, they realise how firmly ensnared they are in their battle and how impossible it would be to live without the other.
There are a variety of other colourful characters caught up in this utterly magical tale. Twins who read the future and the past. A contortionist who has played the game before. A clockmaker who starts a circus cult following. A tarot card reader who wants Marco for herself. A boy who cannot imagine any future other than one at the circus. This beloved cast of characters soon makes the circus a home to both Celia and Marco, one that is to be protected at all costs. Soon, the challenge becomes how to end the challenge without death or damage to the circus.
Erin Morgenstern has created an epic story set at the turn of the century, that kept me spellbound as I listened to it on audiobook. A must for lovers of fantasy.