Great White Snark: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

This is probably the best book I've read this year (with the exception of The Graveyard Book, but that was a re-read). 

Everything about this book is absolutely magical, enrapturing, and basically perfect. From the cover, to the quotes at the beginning of sections, to the print on the page, it's consistent in its whimsical aesthetic the whole way through. 

How do I even begin to summarize?
I want to say its the story of two magicians who are pitted against each other in a game, wherein the circus is the playing field. But that's not really accurate. It's more like...instead of Vader vs. Luke, this story is like the Emperor vs. Obi-Wan. It's the story of two master magicians duking it out through their proteges. And the circus is the backdrop, and it is magnificent. 

The entire circus is black and white, with only pops of red throughout. It's very Tim Burton-esque, and I feel like the book should've had an accompanying soundtrack by Danny Elfman. There's your typical circus fare: a fortune teller (who can actually accurately read her tarot cards), a contortionist (who you're never quite sure is good or evil), acrobats...but then there's other things. A set of mysterious twins, one who sees the past, the other who sees the future. Men without shadows. A tent full of bottles, upon opening which reveal stories through appealing to the 5 senses. A tree that grants wishes. And no one within or involved with the circus ever ages or gets sick. 

And in the midst of it all is Celia, the illusionist, and Marco, assistant to the circus's proprietor. They've been bound together since children, trained meticulously (and in Celia's case, cruelly) in the ways of magic, and are pitted against each other in a game which spans decades. 

I'll be honest. I did not expect a happy ending to this book. But I was pleasantly surprised! And while I can't they necessarily lived happily ever after, they at least existed so. 

This book had everything in it: mystery, romance, some scary bits (but not what I'd call "horror"), and the beautiful, gothic, dreamlike scenescape the author so vividly painted. I absolutely, very highly recommend this book to male and female readers alike. You've got to try it! 

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