Book Reviews · Original Posts

Book Review: The Night Circus

Well, Erin Morgenstern blew my mind. I know The Night Circus has been really hyped up in some circles, but it’s taken me a long time to read this book! Now that I finally have, all I can say is WOW. Just, WOW.


It’s taken me longer than it normally takes for me to read this book. I finished in about a week. (Note about me: I’m a really, really fast reader. Which may have something to do with why I’m also an obsessive rereader…) Normally, I knock a book out in a few days, max. However, I’m glad I took the time to savor this incredible book!

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lvies of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.

THIS BOOK. I ADORED IT. The prose is spectacular! The world of The Night Circus is so beautiful and complicated, filled with good and evil and everything in between. Morgenstern’s writing is gorgeous, and her creation of such a world is equally impressive.

The characters! You fall in love with each and every one of them! Celia and Marco are delightful, and even the characters who do bad things are well-fleshed out and lovable, because they occupy that grey area that is so fascinating to read about. I loved the arcs about Herr Thiessen, Poppet, Widget, and Bailey, as well as our glimpses of other supporting characters, like Chandresh and Mr. Barris. I thought the love story was excellently done as well, and the entire novel was balanced nicely between the romantic tension and all the other issues the characters were facing. The storyline of this book is very slow building, but the world of this story sucks you in and doesn’t spit you out, like so:

“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My heart was pounding at the climax, I was so terrified for all of the characters involved! The timeline does jump around a lot, so you have to watch the dates given at the beginning of each chapter carefully.

I feel I need to give fair warning though- this book is not for everyone. It’s very literary, and very description heavy, as well as rather long. This is the kind of book that goes on to be studied in high school English classes by teenagers, very few of whom understand the true import of the words they’re reading. I loved this! It was excellently done, but if literary fiction isn’t your thing, or you prefer a fast-moving plot, don’t read this book. It will disappoint you, and introduce negativity into reviews of a book, that, in my opinion, should be winning every award possible. Erin Morgenstern has done what I one day hope to- created a fantastical, magical, love story about a group of people bound by a greater force that matters. This book matters a lot. This is one I will definitely reread many times to absorb all its nuances and understand the themes involved here.

Overall rating:

5/5 stars. INFINITY STARS!! (Though, oddly, for  completely different reasons than the last time I gave this, the highest rating I give to a book. See my review of Illuminae to understand that.)

Alright, quotes time! Here are some of my favorite non-spoilers passages.

“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

One about stories, which I love because it recognizes all that I feel in my soul about the true value of stories:

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

One of the loveliest, most romantic quotes:

“I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents.”

-The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

And finally, a requisite attempt at the meaning of life:

“Is magic not enough to live for?”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

So, if you like literary reads, significant books, with great characters and some of the best world-building I’ve ever seen, read The Night Circus! Already read it? Tell me what you think!

By the way, to see what my next books are, check out my Current Readings and Writings page. A review for The Dream Thieves is also on its way!


6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Night Circus

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