A Dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
- Oscar Wilde 1888
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgensten, is a tactical read camouflaged by mystic and the individuals desired to Dream. The story is set on a stage of illusions and impossibility. The circus itself, is not only the setting but the antagonist. "Le Cirque des Reves," (the Circus of Dreams) is a poetic love story; confused in a vicious game of chess between two opposing the force.
Erin Morgensten charms her words delicately, the novel is as much a dream of illusions as the circus itself. The pages hide gems of philosophical notions, as common phrases and background information repeats itself through fresh eyes. The only constant in the story is time; an uncontrollable beast.
In the opening pages we are introduced to: a famed illusionist, and a man in a grey suit. The two characters are in contrast of each other; each representing an opposing view of thought, skill, and manipulation. The two men are the players. The illusionist and the man in the grey engage in a war of philosophy through the training and education of set opponents.
The story is not a battle of good versus evil, or black versus white. The story is more encompassing and alludes to the undeniable grey zone of all that is human. The game might be between two players, however the battlefield is generously populated by civilians. The non-battling characters each have a vested interest in the dreams both promised and delivered by the circus.
Beyond the show, the smoke, the mirrors, and the impossible, the two chosen opponents are introduced and lost in a sea of a deep emotional connection. Erin Morgenstens debut novel is a charming balance of a playful child and fierce seductress. The story reminds me of Hermann Hesse's " The Glass Bead Game," there is danger, and there is love.
After all, Old stories have a habit of being told and retold. Each Storyteller puts his or her own mark against the words; whatever truth was once present is buried in bias and embellishment. The Night Circus is a fantastic and pensive read, it is that of dreams. Become a Reveur and allow yourself the freedom to become lost to the beauty of the imagination.