The book follows various characters including the reader from the 1880’s to the present day as they live and work and visit the Le Cirque de Rêves – a circus that opens at dusk and closes at dawn. Two magic magicians: Celia and Marco are pitted against each other in a competition as children, the circus is their arena…
“First, the colour changes in the face, shifts from white to grey, and then there are clouds that float across it, disappearing when they reach the opposite side…The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously…And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played.”
The writing style of the book seems to work much the same as the clock. The more you read, the more you want to read, as the story becomes more elaborate and complex, the more you want to know, so by the end of the book you are quite happy for the book to continue forever, but you know it cannot.
“I am not particularly fond of believing in impossible things.”
The chapters of the book plays with time. We meet Bailey a young boy dared to go into the circus during daylight hours – whereupon he meets Poppet. Then in the next chapter we meet Poppet and her brother Widget as they are born on the opening night of the circus. We meet characters and then we find out who they are and why they are important, never at the same time.
“The sensation reminds him of the first snow of winter, for those first few hours when everything is blanketed in white, soft and quiet.”
The writing style of the book is immersive. You can picture everything you are being told to picture as clearly as if it were in front of you, which is very handy considering the reader is themselves a character in the book. So as soon as you finish the book you want to re-read it so you can be immersed in its layers once again.