Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library (e-copy)

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

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.

My Review:

You may remember that I mentioned this book as one of my favorites of 2012.  However, I had no review to share at the time, because I read it before I started the blog.  I decided that needed to be remedied, so I put together a brief review of The Night Circus because I want to make sure I properly share its awesomeness with the world.

I ADORED this book. Which is funny, because it falls into a million categories for things I would normally NOT enjoy about a novel. For starters, it's about magic. **side eye**  And, there's a cartoony-looking circus depicted on the cover. (Remember, I even mentioned this in my Cover Snobbery post??)  AND, it has a pretty strong romance/love story as a defining plot line, which is not my usual cup of tea.

Guess what?  IT DOESN'T MATTER! This book 100% illustrates the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover". I think the writing is part of what did it for me. It's beautiful and descriptive without being too flowy or verbose. And it's concise without being brusque. Morgenstern makes the circus (a complex and very VISIBLE character in the novel) come alive in your mind.  If she hadn't taken the time to carefully craft the words to do this, the book wouldn't be even half of what it is.  I can't remember the last time I read a novel where I could call myself a happy customer just based on the writing style alone. The characters, the ending, the plot movement: they could have sucked (even though they didn't), and I would still have been impressed by the writing.

Plus, the love story is so well done. I, the anti-romance-novel reader, have never gotten behind the love of two characters like I did with Celia and Marco.   And I think the fact that their romance was part of this big, darker "challenge" helped a lot. It was romance with a purpose, not a romance for fluff's sake.

This is getting gushy.  The point is: the plot moves along. There are excellent twists at just the right times. Overall, great reading, and totally deserving of a place on my Faves list...even though I did not expect to feel that way when I initially judged the cover.

Other reviews of The Night Circus:
Book Hooked
Leeswammes' Blog
A Cup of Coffee and A Book

Have you read The Night Circus?  Fave or flop for you?


  1. This has been sitting on my shelf for ages but I keep passing it by for newer arrivals. You have inspired me to make it one of my next reads.

    1. Always happy to inspire, Gwynn! I hope you enjoy it.

  2. This book makes me laugh, because all of my friends either LOVED or HATED it. No one was neutral. I'm thinking I'll probably love it, but haven't had the time to read it yet. Honestly, it will probably be a while. Glad you're such a fan!

    1. Whenever you get around to it, I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

  3. haha I am SUCH an anti-romance-novel reader, too! Glad to read your review on this one.

    1. Yes, that was part of the reason I waited so long to read it. Anything that pushes a romance in the description is a little iffy for me. Luckily not a problem here!

  4. Yes, I agree with all you said! This made my list of 2012 favorites, too, but I never wrote a review either, so good for you for going back and getting it out there! I like books with magic and a love story in them, so that wasn't a problem for me, but it was close to a year after buying my own copy that i finally read The Night Circus; I'm not sure why. Because I don't like circuses, maybe.

    1. lol Laurie, that could be it too. The whole circus thing was not a draw for me. But this is nothing like Barnum and Bailey's at least!

  5. Gush away! I LOVED this book to bits! I grabbed it on a total whim. It wasn't a book I would normally read but tah-dah, I ended up falling in love with it. :)

    1. So glad you loved it too! I am starting to see our tastes are VERY similar though. :)

  6. I want to read this one at some point this year. I listened to the audio last year and loved, loved, loved it. I can't stop talking about it (probably am driving some people in my life crazy).

    1. I should check out the audio. Normally I don't do both (I'm not a big re-reader in general) but this is one book that I'd love to re-experience that way.

  7. I can't wait to read this one!

    1. Share your thoughts when you do! :)

  8. I enjoyed reading your review, though this book was a huge flop for me. It's an "atmosphere" book that is extremely slow to start and fizzles at the end. The meaningless circus felt so contrived, and I disliked the characters (particularly creepy Marco). It's one of the most disappointing books I've read in the last year (I reviewed it on Dec. 17, 2012 on my blog).

    1. Ah, here it is! The dissenting opinion! I love it! :) Your reaction is so interesting to me, because some parts I can see (the slow start...yes) but other things did not occur to me at all (I thought the circus was so essential/meaningful and I did not think of Marco as creepy!). I am definitely checking out your review. :)

  9. I loved it- one of my faves of 2012 as well. For all the reasons you said. I never found it slow either. Interesting the reaction it gets!

    1. Yes, very interesting! I hear primarily good things but there are some dissenters here and there.

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