Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus (review)

NightCircus.final_.2‘You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.’ (p. 499)
Back in June 2012 I bought The Night Circus. I had been desperate to get it for some time and the first time I saw it in a store, I just had to get it. So I did. And then promptly put it on my shelf and waited 1,5 years to read it. Not because I forgot about it – no. It was more like I was scared. See, I kept hearing that this book was amazing and I kept building it up in my head. So much, that I was afraid to start reading it because I didn’t want it to not be able to live up to my expectations and as long as it was just standing safely on my shelf, I could keep on believing it was good. But finally I decided that that wasn’t the proper way to handle a potentially amazing book and so I decided to read it this year.
When I started it, I did feel like it didn’t live up to the hype I had created for myself about it. But I read on and just got more and more intrigued by the circus. I recently read someone writing about how Lord of the Rings was more about the setting for them, the world Tolkien created, than it was about the characters and the adventure. And to a certain extent this was how I felt about this book. I loved the circus. This amazing black and white wandering circus filled with the most intriguing tents, each more wonderful than the next with beautiful scenarios, extremely talented artists and just pure magic. I loved reading about it and about the new tents that pops up from time to time.
The circus is the background for a magic competition. Two men competes with each other about which school of thought about magic is the best when they are working within the same environment. Celia and Marco are the two children who are taught to create things in two different ways and then pitted against each other in the wonderful Le Cirque des Rêves. Both are extremely talented at creating various illusions but the problem is that of course every action has consequences and this means that more and more people get involved in the circus – and none of these seem to age. And that’s just one of the consequences of the circus.
Well, except the twins born on the first night of the circus, Poppet and Widget. The twins grow up in the circus, the only ones who seem to grow. These two red-haired kitten training twins are only two of the amazing characters in this book. Others include Prospero, the Enchanter, Celia’s father, and Alexander, the man in grey who trains Marco. Tsukiko the contortionist. Bailey, the boy who loves the circus. Herr Thiesen, the amazing clock maker who becomes the first fan of the circus and starts a whole movement of people following the circus around.
Which is difficult since the circus arrives with no warning and with no announcements preceding it, only being open from sunset till sunrise. It just appears out of the blue somewhere close to a city and immediately draws people in. And I would really want it to show up here. I don’t particularly like circuses – they have clowns, they travel around with animals who don’t belong in a circus – but this circus doesn’t appear to have any clowns or mistreated animals. Just amazing sights, illusions and cute performing kittens. The Night Circus is a beautiful and fascinating books with endearing characters who just grew on me even though I started out just loving the setting. It is a beautiful fairytale set in a city resembling Victorian London. It’s a lovely fantastic ride which I will definitely return to – sometime after sunset when the circus is in town.

‘”Don’t look at me like that,” he says, “as if you think me inhuman.” “I can see through you,” Celia snaps. “It is not particularly trying on my imagination.”‘ (p. 392)

First line: The circus arrives without warning.

  • Title: The Night Circus
  • Author: Erin Morgenstern
  • Publisher: Anchor Books
  • Year: 2012
  • Pages: 508 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars: 5 stars out of 5

13 thoughts on “Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus (review)

    • I’m not sure I agree about the Lord of the Rings being just setting either. But it made me think more about how important the setting is in this book. Oh I would love to own a Herr Thiesen clock!

  1. I reviewed this book a while ago, and while I did it think it had a few issues, I enjoyed it immensely overall. I agree about the setting — it gave the book much of its charm. I also loved the cast of unique and interesting characters.

  2. I wasn’t all that wowed with the story but the world that she created. What a treat. You HAVE to see the Pinterest boards for the book. Just search for The Night Circus. So many lovely images come up.All of them added by fans.

  3. I loved loved loved this book. I think one of the reasons it might have fallen flat for some other people is because it’s not an exciting page turner with crazy plot twists. It’s subtle, beautiful and poetic. It’s just so lovely and I REALLY just want to wear only black and white with a red scarf forever because of it.

  4. Pingback: A Visit to the Night Circus | Tales of the Marvelous

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