fantasy, Alex Award, audiobook
In her debut novel, Morgenstern creates a mystical circus that arrives without warning and is only open at night. Le Cirque des Rêves lives up to its name filled with black and white stripped tents filled with the stuff dreams are made of: an ice garden, a wishing tree, and a cloud maze you can float through. Fierce followers called rêveurs trail the circus’ every move enjoying the sites unknowingly while this amazing backdrop is also the setting for a challenge to the death between two illusionists. Hand picked and trained from a young age, Celia and Marco are pitted against each other by their instructors. But perhaps they are too perfectly picked for each other because their feelings get in the way of their challenge.
My only complaint is that Morgenstern spends so much energy on building atmosphere that some substance is lacking. Other than some last minute information from one of the instructors, we don’t get much of an explanation for the challenge though it seems to continually end very badly for the unwitting players. However, I was completely caught up in her beautiful world building so I don’t like to complain about it too much.
If you enjoy magical mystery such as Harry Potter, Circus Mirandus, or Stardust, you will definitely enjoy this book. I can also highly recommend the audiobook read by Jim Dale. Listening to him describe the sights, sounds, and smells of the circus actually caused me to stop what I was doing and go get some caramel popcorn at one point. His voice is delicious… I will pretty much listen to anything he reads. That is actually what prompted me to listen to this when I did.
This is also a great transitional book from “YA” to “adult” fiction, although it seems pretty clear that those terms don’t mean much anymore. In fact, it won the Alex Award from ALA, books written for adults that would appeal to teens.