“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.” — Erin Morgenstern
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves, the mysterious circus that remains open all night long, and only at night, without a drop of color anywhere but in the clothes of the wandering patrons. The various black and white striped tents form a complex maze, and it proves nearly impossible to enjoy them all before the circus disappears as abruptly as it arrived, even if attended all night, every night. Erin Morgenstern’s popular novel The Night Circus offers readers the chance to experience unusual diversions such as a complex ice garden that does not melt, a wishing tree of candles, and a tent full of jars that, when opened, produce a unique fragrance, each evoking a different and complete story in the mind of the participant. What the enthralled patrons do not realize however, is that the circus is merely the venue for a much greater exhibition being played out beneath the surface of the exotic, swirling spectacles.
Two dueling magicians groomed from childhood for this one great challenge, Marco and Celia compete for the dominance of their guardians’ disparate philosophies of magic. While they have each been carefully prepared for every unexpected twist from their opponent, neither of their guardians prepared them for the possibility of falling in love. Yet unbeknownst to both Marco and Celia is that the only way for the irrevocable bonds of the competition to be broken is in the complete victory of one side … and that defeat can only end in death for the other.
Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel first graced the top of the New York Times bestseller list in October of 2011 and is, at the risk of sounding cliché, as magical in the experience of reading it as it is a captivating story of magic itself and the fate of two star-crossed lovers. Morgenstern’s words wrap the reader up in the experience of the enchanted circus and seem to sparkle and dance on the page as if also charmed. One of her own lines from a newspaper reviewing a character in the book can easily apply to Morgenstern herself, as she “continues to push the boundaries … dazzling [her] audiences with spectacle that is almost transcendent.”
Morgenstern’s success also points to the growing trend of adults picking up young adult (YA) novels, not for their teens, but to read for themselves. It has only been in the past few years that adults have come out in their admission that the stack of YA novels that they are carting out from Barnes & Noble is actually not intended to reach their children at home, but will instead take up residence on their own personal nightstands. A 2014 report shows that 77 percent of YA book buyers were in fact adults, perhaps accounting for the fact that YA is the fastest growing category for publishers. That the genre has widespread appeal and is not, in actuality, targeting children under the age of 18, helps explain the achievement of many modern blockbusters such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars, and even as far back as the Harry Potter series. In 2013, the industry sold more than 715 million books in this category, and Stephen Colbert was quoted stating, “As far as I can tell, a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read.”
Another facet of the YA book trend is the movie adaptations that follow close on the heels of successful novels. The Night Circus is no exception as the development is well underway with a projected release in either 2015 or 2016.