Release Date: September 13, 2011
Source: Amazon Kindle Store
Review Date: January 31, 2012
Rating: 4 bookmarks
I thought this was a very enjoyable and a pretty quick read. I liked the cover art, I’d say it’s a good representation of the book. The writing is very detailed and descriptive. The reader can fully visualize the atmosphere in which the characters live. The image of the circus was so detailed and came through so clear to me that I could really see it. If such a thing were possible, I’d actually want to see a circus like that in real life. The story took place from 1873 – 1903. Even though this took place over 100 years ago, I don’t feel that the time period is the focus, the circus is. I think the time period in which the story took place allowed that circus to be more magical, yet I didn’t feel like I was reading historical fiction.
This story centered around two opponents, Celia and Marco. They both were trained by great illusionists from a very young ages. They were to complete in a game which they never knew when it would begin, when it would end, or what the rules where. Their “stage” was the circus. Because of their magic, this circus was the most over the top and unbelievable thing that could have existed. They had plenty of help from others, in what they called collaborations, and that made it all the more real for the circus patrons. It was clear that both Celia and Marco had very different talents. Some learned, some raw talent beyond that, they were trained very differently.
I loved the characters, they were so complex and intriguing. Celia was awesome. She endured her father’s harsh training, and in the end she was grateful the tough training. Her father, a famous illusionist, Prospero, only thought about was her winning the game. He constantly was enforcing that she needing to practice and grow her skills. He methods sometime boarded on child abuse, but that was the way he knew to get her to what he considered up to par. Sadly, they never really had a true parent/child relationship. I really liked Marco as well, and I did feel terrible for him, he was being taught and basically raised by a man that appeared not to like him at all. Alexander showed no emotion and often left Marco to read his studies in his room. Again, no parental interactions at all. As one would guess, as adults, Celia and Marco fall for each other, hard. They are supposed to be competing, but all the while, they are falling for each other through the creations that they make back and forth. They make them for each other, to please the other, rather than to win the game. Personally, as a side note, I feel that if they pursued the competition in the manner that their teachers wanted, Celia would have won, hands down.
The story often changes narrative perspective. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked that, I initially thought that it actually made the story more complex than it needed to be. As I read on, I could see that with the different perspectives, you can see how everything kind of fit together, especially toward the end. Pieces really start falling into place like a puzzle. In addition to the change in narrative the story jumps all over in time. One chapter you may be reading back 30 years, then up 10 years, then back 1 day, back 1 year, and so forth. I’d say in the first 30% of the book or so, I found myself jotting down notes so I could keep track of the timing of things. I understand the method, but I didn’t care for it so much. I wish it was more linear. Beginning, middle, end. My guess it was to mimic the dream likeness of the circus or help to make it more mysterious.
The circus creator, the clock maker, the architect, the retired supreme ballerina, the sisters who look like twins, and many other characters provided sub stories that leant a great deal to the main plot of story. They was a pretty long list of characters and they were all unknowing participants in Celia and Marco’s competition. The twins that were born on the opening night of the circus turn out to play an important part to how the book ends. Not to give away the story, but it is all tied up nicely at the end. Even though it was a good ending, in my opinion, Celia and Marco still got the short end of the stick.
Overall, I would summarize this book as entertaining, a little dark and magical.