The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

May 4, 2014
The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Random House LLC on 2011-09-13
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Goodreads First Reads

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is like something you just take pleasure in looking at or watching, enjoying and appreciating just the simple beauty of it because it is there That is something that I haven’t run across much with books.

I also love the flow of prose in this. It’s not face paced, it just takes you on a meandering stroll through a magical and mysterious world. The setting of the Night Circus is just … Magical. It appears in the night, and has never before seen, and quite unexplainable wonders. A true air of mystery surrounds the place.

There can be magic in words that captures the imagination to a higher level than normal. Part of the beauty of this book is that experience. Morgenstern guides us very well, but it’s up to us to see the real magic in the circus. I just don’t see how this could be replicated in film, or images as it strips the reader (or viewer) of filling in the blanks, deciding for them self how to view these things. Pretty much, I feel the beauty of the book is caused by the prose and the response it invokes from the reader. Place a static/defined image in front of me, even if it encapsulates and portrays every detail mentioned, it won’t live up to the experience of reading the book.

But despite the beauty of the writing, there is also quite a dark side to this book as well. Honestly, I was a little surprised at how dark of a turn it took. Some books you expect that. If you pick up an Abercrombie book, or a story about a child trained assassin or something with a title containing the word ‘Blood’ or ‘War’ or anything like that, you expect it. But this story, the cover, the title, the way the prose was written, it was a little more surprising. But that made me love the story more.

There are parallel stories going on, each centering on one of three characters. I love this aspect, as we the reader, are waiting to figure out how and when will they merge. You can speculate, but you can never really know for sure until you read on.

One thing about this book that I was, at best, indifferent about, is the chronology. It frequently jumps around to different time frames. I would often have to look back and see what the date was at the beginning of a chapter in order to keep track of the timeline/order of events. I couldn’t decide how I felt about the time jumping so much. I enjoyed the story, so I’m not sure I feel like I can complain. I would just occasionally find myself unclear about the sequence of events (without flipping back to the beginning of the chapter). Ideally, I would rather have not had to do that, but then, it was also simple enough a thing that it was alright.

My only real complaint about the book is that I feel the ending is weak. This is my personal opinion; it may come down to reader preference, as I know some readers were incredibly satisfied with it. Regardless of what I thought of the ending, I do think the book is worth reading because everyone should get to experience the magic of the Night Circus.



  • Tabitha (Pabkins) May 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Sometimes time jumps can really bug me because more often than not I find them pointless. I have been meaning to read it forever and I know just what you mean about expecting a certain something when picking up a particular author. I am actually really looking forward to reading this one. I even purchased the UK version because I liked that cover better lol.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 4, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Completely understand the UK cover preference, seems like they often have the better covers (Dreams and Shadows is great example). Hope you enjoy this when you get around to it. Despite my complaints, and the inconvenience of trying to piece together the timeline, it was a beautifully written story. And in this case, I couldnt help but wonder if the time jumps helped add to the mysterious air about the book.

  • Mogsy May 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    When it comes to magical realism I think this was one of the better ones I’ve read. If the story hadn’t been so heavily focused on the relationship between the two characters, I think I would have liked this a lot better. Beautiful setting (I love circuses in fantasy), gorgeous writing, very cool ideas, but since it was also pitched to me as a romance, it sort of fell flat for me because I didn’t feel much for either of Celia or Marco at all.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      I actually wasn’t bothered by the romance in this one, but can see that there could be a little bit of distance between the reader and the characters, which could make it harder to get into. The writing and the atmosphere made up for any shortcoming for me.

  • Nathan (@reviewbarn) May 4, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Someday. I do love a good magical circus.
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      I don’t think you’ll find a circus more magical than The Night Circus.

  • Megan (Best of Fates) May 7, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    You had me at magical circus.
    Megan (Best of Fates) recently posted…Used Book Stores, Family, & Game of Thrones: Happiness NowMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 7, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      😀 That is the easiest way to sum up the book. In just two words 🙂

  • Anya May 7, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    So I skimmed a bit since I STILL need to read this one *eyes copy on shelf* but I’m excited to hear about the darker elements since that’s been my taste recently 😉 Also, I just found your blog, thank you so much for commenting and assisting me in finding another SFF reader 😀
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    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) May 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! And so glad you found my blog, Welcome! 🙂 Always happy to find more SFF fans!