review: the night circus by erin morgenstern

Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication Date: 09/13/2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 387
Source: Borrowed ARC

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.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart. (goodreads
Please keep in mind that I have edited the goodreads summary to remove what I consider to be spoilery mentions. Trust me, this is not a book you want spoiled.

Every now and then you read a book that sweeps you up, pulls you in, and wraps itself around your heart. The Night Circus is indubitably one of those books. A book doesn't always have all of the qualities a reader might be looking for: intricate - but not overbearing - world building, depth of character, and well-worded prose that aids the crux of a tightly plotted story along. This one has all of them; and did I mention it was a debut novel? There is nothing in The Night Circus that would suggest it was anyone's first foray into releasing a story and instead reads as if Erin has been writing all her life.

Although The Night Circus is not YA and should be classified as and considered adult literature, it's a story that anyone can read and fall into. I'd also like to stress that I'm not much of a circus lover, and if that's you too don't let it dissuade you. While the story is very much about a circus, it's also very much not. It's about exploration and discovering your surroundings and how you fit and work with them. It's also about choice and the illusion thereof. So many of the characters are intertwined in ways they can't even imagine and figuring everything along with them was such a delight. The chapter heads are each given a date, and at the beginning I was flipping back and forth between varying timestamps to piece things together but then it all falls into place and I unconsciously ceased looking. This was one of my favorite of the books plot techniques, as it was able to give the right information at the right time in a manner that wasn't overt but instead subtle and quite clever.

I loved all of the characters, even the dastardly ones, as they all had their reasons and purpose and were just so perfect in making me believe the setting. And I particularly loved seeing bits and pieces about the characters in the beginning that just seemed like a regular bit of detail for them but later turns out to be much more intricately entwined into the story. I've seen comments elsewhere about Celia and Marco and how what happens with them seems rushed, although I didn't feel that was the case. Their story unfolds from the very first page and while nothing is obvious, it's definitely there - some of my favorite moments from them are from earlier on.

This is a book lover's book, one you can sink your mind into for days and one you never want to end. As a note: if you prefer audiobooks, keep in mind that Jim Dale will be narrating this one and it's already sounding amazing. Thank you to Erin Morgenstern for writing and for Doubleday for giving it a chance; this is a book I'm incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to see it published - my copy is definitely pre-ordered.

7 comments on "review: the night circus by erin morgenstern"

We Heart YA wrote: Sat Aug 27, 01:50:00 PM

Oh wow. We've heard some good things about this book, but your review is by far the best. Consider us sold!


kathy wrote: Sat Aug 27, 03:08:00 PM

I hadn't heard of this book until today, and this is the second good review. Sounds interesting. I don't usually read adult fiction but maybe I'll give it a chance.


Jenny wrote: Sat Aug 27, 03:28:00 PM

I've had this one on my TBR list for awhile. I'm glad to hear it's so good. I love stories that are done well and this one sounds like such.


Christina (Christinareadsya) wrote: Sat Aug 27, 06:22:00 PM

Oh, I added this one to my to-read pile a while back but hadn't given it much thought since then... But it does sound delightful. I'm also not much of a circus fan but everything else you've described sounds top-notch. I should give it a shot. Thanks for the review :).

(also... why would the Goodreads summary have a spoiler?)


turn-the-page.net wrote: Sun Aug 28, 07:13:00 AM

Wonderful review - I cannot wait for this one and yes I am paying more for the US cover to be shipped over because it is JUST SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Amy @ Turn the Page


Natalie wrote: Mon Aug 29, 09:29:00 AM

I was on the edge about adding this to my to-read list...the plot sounded interesting but for whatever reason the cover creeps me out! Nevertheless I am definitely going to have to read it now after that wonderful review!


C. Fowkes wrote: Tue Nov 01, 03:49:00 PM

I've been reading this book and I'm enjoying the set-up. Already I like the young characters, they're very sympathetic. The book is so well written.


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