The Night Circus

Only Erin Morgenstern could make me smile so much with just ‘The circus arrives without warning‘.

Name: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Published: 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 Rêves, 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.
Synopsis from Goodreads


I had HIGH expectations of The Night Circus. Last year, I read Morgenstern’s second novel, The Starless Sea, and just fell in love with her writing style. Before that, I’d been an ardent reader of young adult romance… and that was about it. I guess I can thank COVID for giving me so much time to fill that I really broadened the genres of books I read, and I haven’t looked back (goodbye John Green!). So The Starless Sea was my first real exposure to quality fantasy writing – and believe me when I say that these books are quality fantasy writing.

The Night Circus follows, well, a circus throughout its development, running, and the lives of its perfomers. It also shows the perspective of the people who visit the circus, which I really enjoyed. But the circus is also the site of a game of manipulation and magic between Marco and Celia who (inevitably 🙄) fall in love. This idea of a ‘game’ is referenced throughout the book and I really enjoyed all the metaphors and this different fantasy angle.

There are so many different plots throughout the book. I think Erin Morgenstern loves to build up seperate storylines that you think are going to amount to everything but end up meaning little at all. This got a bit confusing in The Starless Sea but there isn’t quite the same intense volume of stories present here. Not to say there wasn’t a lot!

Sometimes I’d forget about these little stories or think they’re a bit boring, but then remember them later and think OH! So if that’s them… then who’s that?… When I was only halfway through, I had a strong urge to reread the entire book again to try and fully appreciate all the storylines!

Above them, the clock continues to turn it’s pages, pushing stories too miniscule to read ever onwards.

– THE NIGHT CIRCUS

In a way, I feel like you need to read the majority of the book before you can begin to really enjoy it. In the beginning, I thought it was dragging a little and I was too busy trying to get my head around this world to actually… look at the world. To fully appreciate the story, to be able to back up the story with previous knowledge and world building, you need to have read a good chunk of the book. However, even on top of that, I thought it took a while to get going.

Additionally, I’m really struggling to find quotes. There’s nothing that really stood out to me, the whole thing was just remarkable. But I think that reflects the entire book – it was all brilliant but very steady! There was no build up to a peak, just a lot of very nice description. And whilst that works fine for a lot of books and people, I just wanted a bit more especially with a romance aspect to it.

“I would have written to you myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.”

“But you built me dreams instead,” Celia said looking up at him. “And I built you tents you hardly see.”

A STARLESS SEA OF INK? (I’M SO FUNNY)

Finally, the ending felt a bit abrupt. Marco and Celia had been playing this game for 20 years and over 450 pages, but the actual conclusion was very short. And confusing. Up until that point, I’d survived pretty well with clarity. Obviously, most aspects of a circus are pretty every-day, but it would have been nice if tarot cardswere explained proeperly! I know the basic concept but there’d be a dramatic ending to a story that was like then the eNcHaNtReSs cArD was pulled out! and I’m left here asking what does that meannnnn?

But apart from minor gripes, this was an extremely well written book. I think I’m always going to prefer the book I read first (find my review of the Starless Sea here), but I’d recommend The Night Circus to anyone who loves fantasy. Once I hit the point where the story took off, it flew. Even if it did take half the book to get there. But let’s go back to my nice bird metaphor 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

19 thoughts on “The Night Circus

    1. Thanks!! If you like fantasy I’d highly recommend it. Especially at the start, there were a lot of scenes where I was like… what is happening??? But then I figured that happens at the start of most fantasy books 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The Night Circus is one of my all-time favourites, there’s just something wonderfully magical and captivating about Morgenstern’s writing!

    I’ve yet to read The Starless Sea, it’s been on my TBR for months! But after reading your review I’m now craving some more of her magic and it’s definitely going to be on my TBR for March! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s good to hear you enjoyed “The Night Cirus”. When I read it about two years ago I loved it and was so glad I finally picked it up. I recently read “The Starless Sea” and loved it even more than “The Night Circus”. *lol* I think it’s even better than her first book and you can see how she improved as a writer. I can’t wait for her next book to come out. XD Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree! I think that her writing had progressed from the night circus, so that might have been why it felt a bit odd to go back, but I still really enjoyed them both. The starless sea is one of my all time favourite books and I’m very excited to hear about anything she writes next! Although I don’t think there’s anything on the line at the moment?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not that I know of. Her stories are so intricate and complex it always seems to take her ages until she finishes her books. But seriously, if the long wait produces something like “The Night Circus” or “The Starless Sea” I’ll wait 10 years for her next book. *lol* Her books are amazing and I’m sure her next one will be too.

        Like

      2. Yes that’s so true! I guess it would be better to have an amazing book later rather than a mediocre one next year. Although I’m sure her books could never be mediocre. And I really want it soon!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this book, mostly the writing. I’m looking forward to reading more works of this author after this one. I can understand how you felt after the ending. It’s nice to see that you enjoyed it. Lovely Review!

    Like

  4. Wonderful review! I just finished reading this book and I feel the same way about the ending. It felt very underwhelming. But, I enjoyed the writings and descriptions very much, too!

    Like

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