Friday, 16 September 2011

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published: 15th September 2011
Publisher: Harvill Secker

Goodreads description:

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.

My thoughts:

The book itself is breathtaking, and it is clear how much effort has gone into making this book look special. The edges have been sprayed black, there's a red cloth bookmark attached and a beautiful overall finish that really adds to the sense of wonder that comes with this book.

The plot is as intriguing and mysterious as the circus it centres around, the lack of chronology in the story, far from confusing me, lead me to devour this book, knowing that eventually, somehow, these elements would all fit together.

The story follows Marco and Celia, two young children pitted unknowingly against each other by their older and clearly vaguely amoral  guardians. A game is set up, a game to which the rules are unclear and the winner can take decades to determine. Their arena? Cirque des Rêves. But the plot focuses on more than just the battle between these two (which involves snow gardens, wishing trees and mazes) it looks at the dynamics of all the relationships that exist as a result of this game; and the effect that has on the wellbeing of the characters. Some characters flourish within the confines of the circus whilst others go decidedly downhill, struggling with the concept that their lives do not fully belong to them, that they are being manipulated in ways they could never have imaged. Poppet and Widget were by far my favourite characters, children of the Night Circus, they are gifted and not entirely what you would expect from normal children. I loved the way Bailey was fitted into the plot, it was subtle and very elegant.

But most elegant of all was the stunning writing. It's amazing that this is Morgenstern's first novel, the writing is haunting and fanciful; befitting of such an enigmatic circus. She handles the descriptions of the various circus tents and acts beautifully, it is never monotonous hearing about the circus, in fact, I wish she'd publish a whole separate book outlining each and every detail.  She ties all the elements together with a grace that seems effortless.

Whilst written for an adult audience, this book has amazing crossover appeal and I would recommend it to any young adult reader. A beautiful debut, one of my favourites of the year. 5/5

Be sure to enter my giveaway for London books here


  1. I NEED THIS BOOK. It sounds like a must have for any reader. Great review.

  2. I love the cover for this one! I've only ever seen the US cover for Night Circus but this one is much prettier!! I already have this book on hold at the library..I'm glad you enjoyed it...makes me look forward to reading it even more!

  3. Wow, Thanks for the awesome review. I kind of wanted to read it before, I really want to read it now!
    Truly Bookish

  4. Sounds amazing... I've been hearing great things about this book, but reluctant to pick it up, since I don't read much adult fiction. Good to know that it has some YA crossover appeal.

  5. I'm hearing only good things about this one. It's making me more and more excited to get to it.

  6. I'm so glad you liked this one - I was afraid that with all the hype, it might be disappointing, so glad to hear it lived up to your expectations. Great review!

  7. I think I might have to check this one out! great review Cait!

  8. ooh I can't wait to read this one. The cover on this one is different or is it just me?

  9. Oh wow! I really want to read this book now. I've just added it to my wishlist :) I'd never heard of it before but it sounds amazing.

  10. I've just read a rave review about this book. I'm really itching to get my hands on this. :x

  11. Awesome review! Sounds like it's on that I need to read, asap!

  12. Gorgeously written. Beautiful prose. A sprawling description of a circus rich with dreams and conjurers as rich in imagination as magician can conjure. However, the story is thin and the love story so long and drawn out that it becomes lost and secondary to the tents and acts that almost overpower the story. Too many strands almost make what could have been a more suspenseful story a stroll around what might have a been an enchanting read.


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