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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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.

I honestly have no idea how to start this review... I'm still a bit in awe of The Night Circus. Morgenstern's debut is one that I picked up based solely on recommendations and reviews, as I'd never heard of it before blog posts and blurbs started popping up. I'm really not sure I even read the description prior to deciding to buy it. Still, it sat gathering dust on my bookshelf for about six months before I found the time to sit down and read it... and  immediately begin silently berating myself for letting it sit unread for so long!

I was 30 pages in when I realized just how amazingly well-written and fantastical The Night Circus was going to be. I think I knew, even early on, that this novel would become one of my all-time favorites. It's been quite awhile since there has been a story that comes close to rivaling my long time favorite, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, but The Night Circus came close to causing an upset. Both novels feature a plot that slowly builds in intensity, a gorgeous love story, and wonderful secondary characters. 

I think it's the secondary characters that have the biggest impact on my opinion of these novels. Comparably, it isn't that difficult to write a lovable main character or romantic interest, but it takes skill to write a troupe of three-dimensional characters, each with their own unforgettable traits.

I've always found the circus to be a rather magical place and this idea has only been reinforced by The Night Circus. I really can't even express how much I adored Morgenstern's descriptions of the various circus tents... I wanted to lose myself in those descriptions forever. It was almost like the Harry Potter effect, in which the reader finds herself wishing and wishing that her own letter would arrive inviting her to study at the infamous Hogwarts and she'd promptly be whisked away to a castle with moving staircases and secret passages. If this magial place was real, I think I'd run away to join the circus.

I truly don't have words to describe how deeply moved I was by The Night Circus and how very highly I recommend it. Read this book... you won't regret it!

Doubleday, Hardcover, September 2011, ISBN: 9780385534639, 387 pages


  1. I really need to get around to reading this one already!

  2. I just started reading this! Can't wait to really get into it!

  3. While I was reading it, I kept getting all these Cirque de Soleil images in my mind, which was super cool.

    I loved the idea of it, but i do wish there had been more depth to the characters and exactly what was going on. on a happier note, i heard a rumor it's already been optioned for a movie. And what a stunningly beautiful film it would make!

  4. I've been dying to read this one and I don't know why I haven't read it yet. Great review :)

  5. I enjoyed the concept and the premise behind this. I loved the descriptions too - so wonderfully written, but I have to say I also didn't actually like how descriptive it was. Sometimes the author would just ramble on about how the tent looks, or how the lamp shines.. or something like that. Haha. Just my opinion though; glad you liked it!

  6. Sara, I loved this book so much. I couldn't put it down. The writing and all the descriptions were so beautiful. Great review.


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