I am about to say something about a book, and I cannot imagine giving a higher compliment. Readers know how I felt and still feel about the Harry Potter series. I have said on several occasions that Harry Potter changed my life; from the moment that I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the entire trajectory of my story was altered. Books became to me like breathing, something necessary and powerful.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern is my adult Harry Potter.


The circus arrives without warning.

I have never been to a circus. I have never seen lion tamers or watched a magic show. The closest I have ever come to a circus was the county fair that came through my town every year. It just isn’t the same thing. It doesn’t have the same flair. But I can imagine that if I had the experience of going to a circus, it would be nothing like Le Cirque des Reves where real magic permeates the very tents. Upon opening to the first page of this story, I feel as if I have been to a circus, as if I could never visit a real circus because Le Cirque des Reves is imprinted on my mind’s eye and the real thing would never be enough, would never capture the pure emotion and magical power of what I’ve read.

Two young magicians are battling, and Le Cirque des Reves is their theater of war. A set of twins, one with stories of the past and one with premonitions of the future must save their way of life. A young boy who is being pulled in all directions finds his future and saves something much more than a circus. A man, whose greatest gifts to the world have always been his ideas, struggles to find himself again. Two very old magicians use others to continue their feud.

It is a story of love that grows over time, because as the two battle, showing off their magical abilities, altering the world and making the circus more beautiful and inspiring, they can’t help but fall in love. Eventually, their magical creations become gifts to each other. As they grow closer, the time for a final battle draws nearer. Sides must be chosen: love or victory. The choice becomes simple, the consequences of that choice, however, are not.

All the while, two very young people are learning to be themselves and to trust their instincts. Of all the moving parts of this book, this selection spoke most clearly to the writer in me:

…I take pieces of the past that I see and I combine them into narratives. It’s not that important, and this isn’t why I’m here–

It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that (504-05).

In many ways, this book became my blood and self and purpose. It has inspired me and reconnected me.

But when you battle, like Marco and Celia do, you don’t leave the same as you entered. In the same way, you can’t read this book and walk away from it unchanged. It is a novel whose characters haunt you long after you close the book for the last time. It is a novel that tells you to trust your instincts, then causes you to question them. The words are powerful, the story is moving, and the best part of it all was that I was a part of it.

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