★★★★★—The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Wow. Wow. That is all I can say. Well, not really. This book was impossible to put down. It is so beautifully written, I was taking pictures of so many quotes and lines I liked because I don't, as a general principal, like to write in books that I read for fun. (I've only recently gotten into the habit for books I've read for my Contemporary Fiction class.) The characters were engaging and endearing. The story jumped around in such a way that I was constantly clamoring for more, telling myself "One more chapter, then I can sleep." The writing made me want Celia and Marco to obtain happiness together, especially since Hector and Alexander forced them into this "challenge" when they were young for their own selfish purposes. Celia and Marco are wonderful. I adore Poppet and Widget. And I very much adore Bailey. I am a rêveur after reading this book. Truly. The pacing was even. The dates at the beginnings of the chapters, while I only glanced at them, are helpful in keeping track of how old people are and when events take place. I found the chapters written in the second person especially gorgeous. My favorite was The Pool of Tears. The descriptions, I think, are one of my favorite aspects of this book. Beautifully done, with a dreamlike, mystical air to them. I could plainly see the fantastical scenes, the magical tents, the amazing acts of Le Cirque de Rêves. I loved the clock descriptions, the cloud maze, the books, the tarot readings, the man in the grey suit... The man in the grey suit intrigued me. No one notices him or remembers him or can pronounce his name right. It is as though he faded into obscurity. Part of me was hoping his real name would be revealed, but everyone has their secrets. And secrets lose power when you tell them to someone, as Widget so wonderfully puts it. The book is allowed to hide things from me. But I do not like the man in the grey suit. He, like Hector, is a manipulative little... I won't say it. "He has no shadow." I believe the book has one expletive, and it's on page 3 or 4. It made me laugh, but a bittersweet laugh. I loved Celia and Marco's witty bantering and their civility and their love of books and of each other. I loved their tenderness and appreciation for one another's talents. I do believe I relate the most to either Widget or Bailey. Widget is the storyteller. Bailey is the boy who wants out of his humdrum life. I love him and Poppet together. I'm not sure if I would consider The Night Circus steampunk or not. I don't know if I would call it fantasy. But I would call it fantastic and dazzling, putting on a show until the very last page. "You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream."