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CJ Reviews The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

TheNightCircusTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4.75 stars

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… (Goodreads)

I read this book for the first time about 4 years ago and fell in love with it immediately. I was going through a circus phase, having just read and enjoyed Water For Elephants immensely. I was looking for something with a similar charm, but what I found had so much more.

The Night Circus is fantastical, whimsical, charming, and just fun to read. I loved it just as much – if not more – the second time I read it. The author’s language and style perfectly sets the mood for the traveling circus and it’s mystery and fascination. The overall tone and mood of the novel fits perfectly with the story, and draws the reader in. It’s dark and mysterious, yet fascinating. As I read through the book I could feel what it may have been like to be a spectator at this circus.

One of the things that stood out to me most about this novel – and it’s one of the things that helps make it original – is the fact that the circus is truly the main character on the story. It takes on  a life of it’s own, growing and changing throughout the course of the novel. Every other character only exists as he or she relates to the circus. Typically I am the kind of reader that really thrives on character development – a novel can be lacking in certain aspects of plot as long as the characters are really well-written and interesting. In this case there really isn’t a lot in the way of character development, but that was okay since the story is really about the circus and not the other characters.

Some readers may find the structure of the novel a little frustrating, but I think it only helped to enhance the story. There are parallel narratives occurring within the novel, as we alternate between the narrative of the circus with Celia and Marco, and another thread with a young boy named Bailey. These two story lines don’t connect until the very end, but I think they are weaved together well and the foreshadowing produced by this structure helps increase tension and anticipation.

Overall this book is just absolutely magical and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel.

2 thoughts on “CJ Reviews The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern”

  1. I read The Night Circus before reading Water for Elephants and I think if I had read them in the reverse order I would have liked Water for Elephants a lot more… The Night Circus was such a charming, illusory read. It didn’t take long for me to get really into the book, I fell in love immediately!


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