Sunday 2 September 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Double Day
Page Count:  387
Publication Date: September 13th 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 RĂªves, 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.

What I thought:

Well firstly I don’t normally read books like this (magicians and circuses) which is the reason I gave for trying it out. I’ll have to say this book isn’t for everyone.  I say that because the story, although nicely written is dragged out with numerous detailed descriptions throughout. This could be off putting for some but if you don’t mind excessive detail then don’t be discouraged.

I did actually enjoy this book, which is a change from what normally happens when I spontaneously pick up a book, because I enjoyed the story for the most part. My main problem was the amount of characters that we meet. It was difficult to remember what name fit which character and who they were connected to because there were just so many. This made certain story lines have much less of an impact when a twist was revealed because I barely knew the characters and so didn’t feel anything when I was meant to. Some of the characters also lacked personality and they just didn’t seem like real people to me. For example the Celia and Marco’s fathers are to an extent abusive and negligible, respectively.

Marco and Celia themselves also had an odd relationship. Let’s start with Marco, who seems to have a relationship with both Isobel and Celia at some point. He seems to feel like Isobel owes him something for helping her with her career in tarot card reading, then he goes onto fall in love (at first sight) with Celia while still maintaining some sort of relationship with Isobel – he doesn’t really act realistically. Then we have Celia who is strong and weak at the same time. She tells Marco she refuses to fall in love easily but then does so only a few moments later. The only time we really see her more authoritative side is when she’s talking to her father, who is a barely a father considering the way her behaves towards her.

On a more positive note the imagery in the book is lovely and I could really visualise the surroundings described, so for that reason the book’s ‘magic’ came to life when it was described in the book and I could imagine the awe and surprise of the spectators as if I were one of them.

Rating: 3/5


  1. I loved the first, about, third of a book. Thought it was on its way to being a 5 star book. Which I rarely give. Maybe 1-5 a year out of 400 books. The middle third...almost gave up reading. I loved the descriptions- the world building aspect. But the plot seemed tacked on, so did the whole romance thing. I think it would have made an outstanding 200 or so page book, but it's a very uneven 300-ish page book.

  2. @365_books_a_year

    My thoughts exactly. At the start I was I was in love with the writing but as the story progressed things and characters seemed to be added in unnecessarily. If this book was a 100 or so pages shorter it would have been much more enjoyable.

  3. I had a lot of the same problems with this book. There were too many characters and time jumps. I also didn't feel that there was any romance between Celia and Marco.

  4. @Sarah Johnson

    Before Celia and Marco met I knew they were going to fall in love but when it happened it seemed to be one of those 'unexplained attractions' and it just all felt too forced to me.

  5. Great blog. I write speculative fiction and often review other genres. I agree that too many characters is a big turn off when reading, but unfortunately a lot of writers tend to do that. I try not to, but a review like this of other people's work often tempts me to reflect and make changes to my own writing.

    Here is a link where you can find me:

  6. @T. M. Crone

    Thanks for reading T.M. Crone, I'll be sure to check out your blog.

  7. I've never read a circus book either. Nice review!

    Leigh | Little Book Star