"Have you ever thought about it, about simply leaving? Really, truly thought about it with the intent to follow through and not as a dream or just a passing fancy?" When he does not answer, she continues. "Think about it, right now. Picture us abandoning this place and this game and starting over together somewhere else, and mean it."
Marco closes his eyes and draws it out in his mind, focusing not on the wishful dream but on the practicalities. Planning out the smallest details, from organizing Chandresh's books for a new accountant to packing the suits in his flat, even down to the wedding bands on their fingers.
And then his right hand begins to burn, the pain sharp searing, beginning at the scar around his finger and racing up his arm, blackening out every thought in his mind.
A circus steals into town like a thief. In the blink of an eye it appears. One moment it is not there, the next it is. For this is a circus like no other. It opens only at night and is called Le Cirque du Rêves--The Circus of Dreams. For that is what it is truly is made up of--the dreams of two powerful young magicians. For it is not truly a circus, but a venue for the greatest competition the world has ever seen. Forced to compete against their wills without any knowledge of what they are competing for, what the rules are, or what is at stake--the innocent pawns of two master magicians who think nothing of playing with another's life. For the competition is not over until only one is standing and once they were bound to the competition there is no way to get out but to win.
In the midst of uncertainty and magic, two young magicians find the answer to their dreams, not in the circus, but in each others arms. Only after the two have fallen for each other do the they learn the truth about the competition. It is a fight to the death. Judging not only the creativity put into the exhibits they create, but testing their stamina and control. But if one must die can there truly be a winner???
I truly enjoyed this book. It was unique and kept me wondering what would happen next. There were so many twists, surprises and secrets to keep my attention. Plus, the creations of each magician were wonderful to see, er, read about.
The story of how Celia grew up was heartbreaking. To have your own father enter you into a competition which could render you dead was appalling. She was never allowed a true childhood and never felt good enough. Marco's childhood was equally heartwrenching. Virtually ignored unless he was being tutored by his mentor, he too missed out on a proper childhood. It's no wonder the two were drawn to each other. I can't help but wonder if the way the two were bound to the circus contributed to their attraction. They were not only a part of the circus, but it was a part of them.
Besides the magicians, the story follows another set of characters and toggles between the two story lines which are both related to the circus. At the end, the two stories finally come together and you understand the significance of the second set. It took me a while to figure out the two stories weren't taking place at the exact same moment in time, but it didn't really bother me too much. I sort of realized who the mysterious female character was early and noted the time difference.
Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. This was a great debut novel for Ms.Morgenstern and she has a wonderful imagination. So be prepared to embark on a magical journey to a circus like no other and ponder the question, "Do you believe in magic?"
Note: If you're a member of Goodreads, they're in the final round of picking the winners for their 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards and this book is up for the top choice in Fantasy. If you'd like to vote, here's a link: