REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

nightcircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday, 2011

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.


I was pretty late to the party in regards to this book; I didn’t hear anything about it until recently, having been engrossed in the world of Young Adult literature due to my coursework. But it was sitting on a display at my local library when I went in to pick up a DVD I’d requested, and I decided it was fate, so picked it up. Let me just say that anything that was glowingly said about this book – in my opinion – is completely justified. I really REALLY liked this book a lot.

This book starts off with this line: “The circus arrives without warning.” And my attention was caught completely with those five simple words.

The summary of this book uses the phrase “fierce competition” to describe what is going on between the two main characters, who are both illusionists named Marco and Celia. But that’s not entirely true, for that makes it sound like this story is action-packed, unceasing in its intensity, etc., and that’s not what’s going on in this book. This book is very slow-paced. The competition is actually more of a collaboration in a game that neither of them know the rules of. It alternates viewpoints and time periods, and it can be slightly confusing at times. For me personally, it is the love story between Marco and Celia that drives this book, which is something because they don’t actually meet for the first time until a significant amount of pages have passed. What they do, they’re doing for each other. When they’re together, you sort of catch your breath at the feelings between them.  The author’s use of description is amazing; I had no trouble at all visualizing what was happening. And as for the circus itself, forgive me for saying this, but it was truly magical to read about and made me wish that something like it could really exist. The attractions and magic that was so very alive for its visitors would have been breathtaking to behold in person, especially when you realize just how it’s all come about, and what’s keeping it going.

I loved the Murray twins, and Bailey, and while the ending wasn’t exactly what I’d been hoping for, it still made me happy and satisfied my wishes well enough. I love that Widget’s gift was storytelling, and I adored the passage on page 381, where Alexander is talking about what storytelling can do for others:

“There’s magic in [storytelling]. 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 their purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.”

This sort of sums up my feelings on reading, so, had this been my personal copy of the book and not one that belonged to the library, I very well may have drawn hearts all over it. The prose and the author’s ability to turn a phrase was amazing to read, and I enjoyed every single word.

My one quibble is that, again, this author doesn’t seem to know how to use semicolons. I wonder if this is an epidemic, because I have seen authors completely ignore them and use commas instead, creating huge run-on sentences. I wish editors would be more forceful about this, because it really ruins what would be an otherwise perfect book. But the story – especially the love story! – is more than enough to make up for it.

If you want to read a slow-burning romance combined with amazing feats of circus magic, this is the perfect book for you. I found it truly enchanting.


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1 Response to REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday #3 –

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