The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is certainly creating some buzz lately. So, I was excited to receive a copy and see what all the talk was about.
"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
Le Cirque des Réves
(The Circus of Dreams)
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn."
But what visitors don't know is that the circus is a venue for a game. A game between two enigmatic magicians (although they are much more than simple magicians) of indeterminate age and otherworldly skills. Each has chosen a player and trained them for many years. And now that the circus is open, the game begins. The young players, Celia and Marco, are not even sure of the rules, how a winner will be dictated or what the playing should even consist of. And so we follow the circus, the game and the lives of everyone touched by the magic.
Where Morgenstern absolutely excels is in imagination. She has conjured up fanciful, magical places and times. Her prose are rich and lush, painting very vivid images. I often found myself rereading these passages and imagining what one of the attractions would be like. For the attractions at the Cirque des Réves are unlike any other. Each tent contains an unfathomable wonder that you may have only dreamed of.
I loved the following imagery - books as both vehicle and voyage.
"When she opens her eyes, they are standing on the quarterdeck of a ship in the middle of the ocean. Only the ship is made of books, it's sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon is dark black ink. They stand silently together as the ship drifts toward the endless horizon."
Where the book fell from a five to a four for me was in the pacing and character development. The first half of the book moved a little too slow for me. I did end up putting it down for a few days. When I picked it back up, the second half moved much faster, with more action and consequences happening.
Although Celia and Marco are the main protagonists, there are many, many others integral to The Night Circus. Celia and Marco remained for me attractions - I never became truly invested in their love story or struggles, despite the fairy tale feeling of it all. I found myself drawn to many of the other players, especially Bailey. His character is more tangible and I was able to believe him in him more. This could simply reflect the pragmatic nature of this reader.
The Night Circus is a intriguing, inventive foray into a magical world that, deep down, every one of us wishes existed. A very strong debut novel. And a bit of a magical time for Morgenstern - movie rights to The Night Circus have been sold to Summit Entertainment - who also brought you the Twilight movies. It will interesting to see what movie magic can do to reproduce The Night Circus.
on September 6, 2015
“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern is a powerful tale of pure magic presented as a rich physical and metaphorical creation. At the core of Le Cirque des Rêves – which is open only from sunset to sunrise – is a deadly contest between two rivals whose identities remain hidden from each other till much later in the game. Real magic wielded by them is showcased as the tricks and illusions that create this impossible circus.
The inception and birth of the circus, the fantastic clock where each hour creates a whole new drama in and around the clock, the magical cauldron of fire lit on opening night by 12 archers, the labyrinth in the sky, the bedtime stories in jars, the pool of tears … this story is filled with countless magical moments and surprising events. Creating this circus, where (barring one mysterious exception) no one is born, no one ages and no one dies, are fascinating characters with fantastic stories narrated through alternating flashbacks to the beginnings of the circus, current experiences, and almost a flashforward as we follow the adventures of Bailey.
Amid all the enchanting mists, we are of course never allowed to forget the main plot: the challenge - what is it? who is it between? who will decide the winner? based on what points? … The underlying mystery, started by the man who “has no shadow” is something that we, along with the chosen contestants, must slowly discover with time. For when that realization dawns, and the Circus begins to disintegrate, we truly see the powerful darkness that abounds all around.
on January 15, 2012
This believable magical tale kept me entertained for hours. I didn't give it 5 stars because I initially had problems trying to keep the order of events sorted out. Read and remember the dates at the beginning of each chapter or you are rapidly going to get confused. I know I did! Other than that the novel drew me into a mystical world where fabrics change colour on a whim, birds transform into hats and two lonely people find happiness. The text is rich in imagery and the characters are touchingly real. A lovely read.
on August 27, 2015
The circus is a magical event. Most people only go to one or two in their lives. When they are very young, teenage years with friends, or taking your own child there. You see them in the distance; large tents striped in the colors red, white or yellow. One or several tents, the circuses serves fun for the whole family. From bears on unicycles, to terrifying clowns, all the way to acrobats and magicians. Those seemed to be the basics of a circus. Which is why when Le Cirque des Reves comes to town, it is an unordinary event.
Le Cirque des Reves is French for The Circuses of Dreams as it is only open from when the sun goes down till it goes up again. The circus is made up of two colors: black and white. Everything for the tents to the circus people's outfits to the color of the flames at the bonfire are either black or white. There are several tents to the circus, with new ones keep being added. From the Ice Garden, Wishing Tree which are new, to the old and loveable tents like the Fortune Teller and the Illusions. All of these tents travel the world without signs, or anyone knowing where they will land next. You would be walking by a normally empty field, yet this morning the circus would be set up. Next week it will be gone until reports show its somewhere thousands miles away. That is the true magic of Le Cirque des Reves.
The true magic of Le Cirque des Reves is not the tents, but the people themselves. The book starts off with one of our main stars Celia when she was six. She and her father are both illusions, but what they do is more than an illusion. Some call it magic, they prefer to call it manipulation. Where Celia father was harsh on her, he was doing it all for… not love but for the game. Yes a game. Where he and another illusionist pit their students against each other, to see which was survives. Bounded together by a ring the games goes on for years, with the only ending being in death of one. Yet her opponent remains a mystery. Celia spends years training to become a better “illusions” with her father’s harsh methods of particle teaching. Yet she manages to withstand the training and move out on her own after her father’s passing. Celia then is off to find work, and at none other than the illusionist tryout for Le Cirque des Reves. Having her father known to all, Celia dazzles the judges and gets the job. There she meets many interesting people and literally becomes the heart of the circus. The circus is the root of the problem. It is where she meets her opponent and has to battle them to death. It is where she falls in love, disobey her father, and eventually passes on to a new world only illusionist have even heard about.
Erin Morgenstern did a fantastic job with this one of a kind book. The story line is fantastic and so different that you have no predictions on what will happen next. The time jumping is a little strange and confusing, same with the switching of points of views. At parts it did not flow as each chapter change brought you in a completely different setting and time. The book was hard to get into at first. It was not till around a hundred pages in did I get the writing concept. And yes I’ll agree that the start is extremely boring but do not give up. Soon it becomes a captivating book that you will never want to put down. It had the best ending that could be hated and love which just tops off this novel.
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on July 31, 2012
The premise, at first, is simple: the circus arrives at night, without any warning and is gone come dawn. It travels around the world, popping up with no notice. Everything is black, white and shades of grey. This is no ordinary circus though. Once you pass through the gates, you enter a whole other world, one I wish so badly I could physically experience myself. Instead of one main tent, the night circus is many individual tents, each with something magically unique and amazing inside. You are free to wander and enter tents as you wish. The circus may be black and white, but the story is not void of colour. The prose is rich with detail and the illusions that fill the chapters jump off the page. If I've ever wanted a book to be desperately made into a movie, this is it. While I had no trouble escaping into the world of the night circus, I believe this story would translate amazingly onto the big screen, where the magic and illusions could come to life.
Read the rest of my review on my blog: [...]
on February 22, 2012
What a charming read. I'd been meaning to read this book for sometime now, and am so glad I finally got to it. It is a charming tale of enchantment, intrigue and love. It is not entirely written chronologically, which did lead me to flip back and check dates and places in previous chapters, but it is presented in a way that when the story does finally completely unfold, the pieces all fit together without having given anything away.
There are certain characters I'd have liked to have seen developed more, but even so, this book was well-written and so wonderfully descriptive, I could almost smell the sweet caramel of the circus. While reading the final chapters, I could see the scene so vividly, I had to question when the movie would be announced (today, as it were). Will be interesting to see if the movie is able to retain the magical fantasy that Morgenstern has created.
on November 25, 2011
This book was interesting, but at times confusing. The dates in the chapters jump around too much, and I found myself having to flip back a chapter (or two) to see where we were in the timeline. The point of view also changes in nearly every chapter, which is distracting, but also gives it some variety. I was also often confused by the details of the competition and the whole idea of the story. I often found myself re-reading a paragraph or two to try and determine if we were in the real world or the magic one...maybe that's part of the appeal of the book, I'm not sure.
The story was great though, excellent development of the characters. It was interesting to watch the characters grow as the story went on.
I recommend this book, but be prepared to do some legwork to figure out the timeline.
on September 18, 2015
It has been one of my most favourite pieces I read this year though mostly for the visuals. Erin Morgenstern's background in visual artist bled through the text creating a world I couldn't wait to crawl into. The main relationship in the story I had mixed feelings about and found the time frames confusing, but overall worth it for the chance to run away into the Circus.
on September 12, 2013
I loved this book. Reading is easy enough to be enjoyable as a get away, vacation book, but also thought provoking enough to have me write this review about six months after reading it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting an enjoyable and memorable read!
"The Night Circus" is a rare book -- it is fiction, it is fantasy, it is fairy tale, it is a circus tale, and it is a magical romance. Erin Morgenstern's debut novel is one of those rare stories that simply grabs your imagination and refuses to let go -- full of haunting magical experiences and eccentric characters, but also in need of some editorial trimming at times.
In the vein of "The Prestige," there are two children in the blossoming time of the Gilded Age, and only room for one of them. Celia is a born magician -- she is left at Le Cirque des Reves with Prospero the Entertainer, a place of strange people and even stranger magics.
And Prospero conspires to create the greatest magical battle in history by pitting young Celia against her only rival, Marco. Like Celia, Marco was a child of great power, abandoned because of it and groomed by a weird man. You can probably guess where this magical concatenation of Shakespeare and magic is going: the two kids fall in love, and try to be together despite the destined battle they have been groomed for.
Erin Morgenstern is undeniably a richly talented writer -- she crams this story full of eerie happenings, odd characters, drifting smoky magic, and fairy-tale atmosphere that happens to be set in the middle of a strange, almost dangerous circus. Perhaps "The Night Circus'" biggest flaw is that it needs a little editorial pruning, in some spots that needed a little less description.
The romance here feels pleasantly organic -- Morgenstern lets them drift together and intertwine in the context of the story, avoiding instant super-passion or big flashy displays. It burns slow and soft as it goes on, and feels all the richer because it avoids "Twilight"-style theatrics and hyperbole. But hanging over it all the time is the creepy, dark threat to the two young magicians.
And the magic is much the same, seeping into the pages like a rich scent. This story is slow, subtle and shimmering, like diamond-studded velvet floating through the air, and the inclusion of steampunky technology (trains, electric lights, industrial factories) merely highlights the magic.
Both Celia and Marco could have used a little more polishing, but they are likable lead characters, and you do want them to find their happily-ever after. But the truly engaging characters are the rich supporting casts -- Tsukiko the contortionist, the twins, a weird clockmaker, and the manipulative mentors of the two young magicians.
Erin Morgenstern casts a spell over the reader, sweeping us into the sensual beauty of the "Night Circus" -- and leaving us craving more stories set in her enchanted world.