'Playful and intensely imaginative, Erin Morgenstern has created the circus I have always longed for. This is a marvellous book' Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
Opens at Nightfall Closes at Dawn
As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
When a young European traveller arrives at Sikri, the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar, the tale he spins brings the whole imperial capital to the brink of obsession. He calls himself ‘Mogor dell’Amore’, the Mughal of Love, and claims to be the son of a lost princess, whose name and very existence has been erased from the country’s history: Qara Köz, or ‘Lady Black Eyes’.
Lady Black Eyes is a fabled beauty believed to possess great powers of enchantment and sorcery. After a series of abductions by besotted warlords, she finds herself carried to Machiavellian Florence. In her attempts to command her own destiny in a world ruled by men, Lady Black Eyes brings together the two great cities of sensual Florence and hedonistic Sikri, so far apart and yet so alike, and two worlds become dangerously entwined.
Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy.
The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down.
As their parallel odysseys unravel, cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghost-like pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since World War II. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle - one of many which combine to create an elegant and dreamlike masterpiece.