An atmospheric fantasy about a moving circus that “appears without warning” should be a wonderful backdrop for an intriguing story – unless the characters are flat and the storyline also appears and disappears like a bird in a magician’s hand. The plot is elusive and uninteresting, jumping back and forth in time, until predictably merging near the end of the book. There is some nice writing that creates a mood, but you’d think that a circus which not only contains magic but is magical itself would be….well, magical!
Marco and Celia are young magicians who are submitted to a challenge which not only pits them against each other, but magically builds and develops the circus as well. The circus is only open at night and has very little colour besides some splashes of red amidst a lot of white, black, and grey. There is wonder and enchantment for those who visit, not only in what they see, but in how it makes them feel. Not a bad basis for a good story, if it had ever taken off. There was a fantastic clock fashioned for the entrance to the circus that was charming and worth imagining. I think I was secretly hoping for a new Hunger Games, but this certainly was not it. So, unless you are a diehard fantasy fan, I’d take a pass on this one.