Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

It’s been a long time since my last book review so I’m glad I finally got around to actually writing a new book review for the blog. For my second book review I decided to do The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Since I liked the format for my review of Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin I decided to stick with that for this and my other upcoming reviews. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

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Summery: 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. 

Review: I absolutely loved this book. The opening line was probably my favorite opening lines from any book I have read: The circus arrives without warning.” Automatically my minds starts firing off questions: where did the circus come from?, why did it come without warning? It is definitely the type of opening sentence that grabs an audience. Even the name of the circus is enticing: Le Cirque des Reves, “The Circus of Dreams”. What I loved the most was how descriptive Erin was when describing the circus and it’s various tents. It just made me wish the circus was real so I could explore all the different tents.
The book was told from three different points of view: Celia and Marco’s, Bailey’s, and a third point of view. (The third POV seems to be the reader itself and is written as if the reader is entering the circus as an observer). Because Bailey’s timeline was out of order with Celia and Marco’s it was often confusing when you would jump from one POV to the other. For example you would have a Celia/Marco chapter taking place in 1884 then the next chapter would be Bailey in 1897 then back to Celia/Marco in 1885. I would often have to skim back to the previous chapter just to remember where I was in the book.
I liked that the romance between Celia and Marco was very gradual. Throughout most of the book Celia and Marco had very little face to face interaction with each other. Their romance really occurred through the circus. Each new tent they created and added on to was a love letter to the other.
I happened to really enjoy the ending of the book. I liked how when Alexander asks Widget to tell him a story Widget begins his story with the very first line of the book: “The circus arrives without warning.” It almost made me wonder if it was Widget who was telling the story the entire time since he is able to see the past and was always making up stories for Poppet. It was great how the last chapter (told from the reader’s point of view) ended with the realization that the circus is still continuing to this day when the reader picks up a business card that says “Mr Bailey Alden Clarke, Proprietor bailey@nightcircus.com“. The addition of the email address makes it clear that the reader is in  modern times unlike the rest of the book that took place in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. It became obvious that Poppet was the new fortune teller (since she was able to see the future) and that Bailey took over as the manager of the circus.
 
Best Feature: The Circus. Erin did such a great job describing the circus and it’s different tents that it almost felt real. I really couldn’t decide which tent was my favorite: the ice garden, the wishing tree, or Widget’s tent.
 
Worst Feature: Pacing. There were times when the pacing was a little slow and I really had to push through. It was also a little confusing when the chapters would skip from one point of view from another because I would have to go back to the last chapter just to reorient myself.
 
Overview: I really enjoyed this book. I absolutely loved Erin’s description of the circus. While I like the Celia and Marco story line I loved reading Bailey and the reader’s parts because you really got to discover more of the circus during those parts. While the pacing was a little slow at times it was such an engaging story that you had to find out what was going to happen next.
 

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