review: the night circus by erin morgenstern

the night circus by erin morgenstern
published: september 13th 2011
series: standalone

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.


. : : R A T I N G   3   S T A R S : : . 

cause of death: intense mixed feelings


“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

It seems appropriate to start with this quote. I feel kind of sad having finished The Night Circus, not because the book is particularly sad but because I couldn’t give it a higher rating.

I’ll admit that the glowing reviews and ratings I’d seen prior to picking this book up seemed like an elaborate but useless conspiracy. While I could see the writing was incredible, the plot was so not there, I couldn’t imagine what everyone was finding so appealing (save for the writing, I literally cannot stress how amazing it was). Until I hit the 50% mark, it was incredibly hard to keep picking The Night Circus back up. To put it in perspective, it took be 3 days to read 300 pages but only hours to finish the last 300 (sidenote: i was reading this on my phone so no the book is not 600 pages long)

Erin Morgenstern’s writing (yes, i’m talking about the writing again) was truly a work of art and the only thing that kept me from DNFing the book. Morgenstern falls in my group of authors that have the most rich and lovely writing style (with [author:Donna Tartt|8719] and [author:Catherynne M. Valente|338705]). If you’re someone who loves rich and detailed descriptions, this book is for you.

If you’re someone who doesn’t mind a slow buildup that is, in the end, worth the read, this is for you.

If you’re someone who loves the circus, this is for you.

Sadly, this is not me.

I love rich writing and details but need something to keep me interested as well. And I’m not a circus person. So 20,000 varying descriptions about the circus was not gonna cut it. If you can make it ’till the end it’s worth it because the pace picks up a lot and you’re met with a bit of mysteriousness and intrigue and revelations that were delightfully surprising. But you have to work for it.

Despite how much I enjoyed reading the latter half of The Night Circus, I can’t rate this the 4 or 5 stars I want to because the beginning was just so… dull.

T H O U G H T S ?
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2 thoughts on “review: the night circus by erin morgenstern

  1. Awww… too bad this didn’t work for you. But I do get what you mean about the writing. Also, i think the manner it was told could be abit jarring for a lot of people. Luckily, it worked for me. 🙂

    Great review hun. 🙂

    • I’m glad it worked for you! So many people enjoyed it (and I can definitely understand why). If it had gripped me from the beginning instead of around 50% this definitely would have been 5 stars 🙂 Thanks, Aria!!

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