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on October 20, 2011
This book was recommended to me by Amazon. After looking at the 5 or 6 ratings/reviews that raved about this book I bought it instantly. I feel somewhat torn in my overall opinion of the book. It was without a doubt a very unique idea and that is part of the reasons that i did like this book. The author does a fabulous job creating the circus and does in fact make you wish that it would come and visit your town! However, I found it increasingly frustrating as the book goes on. The dates for each chapter in the book seem to jump all over the place and I found it quite annoying to try and follow. This combined with so many questions surrounding the actual competition and some of the characters made it difficult for me to stay interested at certain points in the book. Sometimes when i picked it up i really enjoyed it and other times I could have set it right back down. I didn't particularly care for the ending.. I guess i was expecting more, but I absolutely adored the first chapter "Anticipation". After reading the entire book this is still my favourite part and the one thing keeping me from donating the book to the local library. I don't dislike the book but, but I don't think I will read it again (well, maybe the first chapter!! )

I do wish I had enjoyed it as much as everyone else on here seems to have.
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on April 2, 2012
I'm afraid I don't quite agree with most of the reviewers here. Granted, the book's concept is magical and the circus does seem compelling at first. But I got tired of the slow pace of developments, and the jumping around of the timeline, and ultimately the writing style (which seemed designed to describe things beautifully but not actually reveal much).

Somewhere around the middle of this book I realized I didn't really care what happened to the two main characters, and I lost interest in making the effort to piece together what was really going on. The whole premise that was ruling their lives seemed a bit pathetic and I ended up feeling that the ending didn't really matter to me.
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on April 17, 2016
To be honest, I went into this book figuring that it was probably over-hyped in the online book community. Based on what I've heard, I thought it would probably be good, but not the fantastic thing that everyone said it was.

I was wrong. This book was absolutely fantastic. Possibly one of the best I've read. I'll apologize in advance, because this review will likely just be me talking about everything I loved about this book.

This book promises a lot. The summary is long and hints towards quite a few things that happen throughout the story. Much to my surprise, this wasn't even half of the points that make up this book. There are so many stories and characters and places, and they all revolve around this circus that appears at random and operates only when night has fallen. It should have made this a very dense, difficult read, and it really wasn't. I read this book in a matter of hours, despite the 500 pages.

The Good Points of The Night Circus:

The characters! This book wouldn't work if all of the characters weren't fully developed and put together in such a way that drives the story forward. You fall in love with them, get frustrated with them, want to smack them, and so on throughout the whole story. They actually feel real enough that you think you could do those things.

The visuals and atmosphere is absolutely incredible. The descriptions (something I tend to skip in other books) were gorgeous, and the feeling of excitement and wonder that the author creates made me long to go to this circus. This is, in part, aided by short sections that are dispersed throughout the book, written in second person, that describes your journey through the event and the different things you see. That, plus all the other elements and settings described throughout make for what seems like more of an experience than a read.

The writing for this book is good - but you barely notice it. It may take a chapter or two to adjust to the present tense writing, if only because it's not the most common thing, but you won't think much of it after that. It's written in such a way that you don't get hung up on how things are worded, or grammar, or anything else of the sort. You just get lost in the story.

The Downsides of The Night Circus:

I did find it a little slow to start. It picks up pretty quickly, but I found it did drag a little until the idea for the circus really gets going.

If you're looking for a beautiful, touching romance, you may be a little disappointed. The romance is incredibly important to the story, but it's not what the entire book is about. The story focuses on the circus as a whole, so you get a lot of other stuff too. I thought it was great, but I'm not a huge romantic, so maybe you will have more of an issue with this.

All in all, a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of mystery, romance, and sugary confections.
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on April 26, 2016
The Night Circus takes you on a decades-long journey of a travelling circus fuelled by a competition between two long time rival magicians. Shrowded in mystery the black and white tent arrives in each new town. As quickly as it arrives, it vanishes with the morning sun. Follow the contortionist, the fortune-teller, the twins, and the magician and run away with the circus!

Erin Morgenstern did a fantastic job in creating a rich and palatable dream world in The Night Circus. It offers everything one could ask for in a novel: magic, romance, intrigue, rivalry. Her characters are unique and their lives keep you turning pages well into the night.
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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.
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on October 23, 2012
I'm guilty of it, you're probably guilty of it - I buy books based on the cover. Look, I know. I'm a librarian. I get it. That's not HOW you should choose a book. There are better ways. I'm also guilty of NOT buying books based on the cover, and missed out on one of my favourite series for years because of it.


At any rate - I was wandering around the book store, and the cover caught my eye - I was burned out from a consulting gig, I wanted something with a bit more ... something ... then the urban fantasy I've been burning through, and a bit less substance than the Biography I've been warily eyeing and knowing I should just start already. My roommate finished it before I got around to it on the pile of books to read and her liking it is generally a good sign that it's something I'll like.

This book took me forever to read. I read it pretty much a chapter at a time (which is very, VERY unlike me) and it took a solid month for me to finish. The thing is, it's not because I didn't like it. I get why there were mixed reviews of it, and I get why there was a love/hate relationship with it a lot of readers seemed to have. It's a bit of a slow book, and very layered - you need to pay attention to a lot of subtleties, or you're just going to get bored.

I, personally wasn't bored. I am firmly on the camp that this is one of the best books since ever, and I'm planning to recommend this book a lot, to (almost) everyone. The imagery of the Circus was beautiful and made me wish there was something like it - it brought back that childhood memory of the fantasy and whimsy of the Circus' we went to as kids, the same Circus' that going to as grown ups lost a bit of their magic to adult eyes. The book is high magical realism and I would say even if you end up on the not liking it, it is well worth a read.
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on May 15, 2016
This was recommended to me if I enjoyed the Harry Potter series. While not at all alike, both demand that you suspend reality and open your imagination to what a 'magical' world could be like. Hugely enjoyable for me.
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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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 23, 2012
An intoxicating blend of historical fiction and fantasy, "The Night Circus" is one of the most impressive literary debuts I have read recently, marking the advent of an important new voice in fantasy and mainstream literary fiction; Erin Morgenstern. It is a boldly imaginative work encompassing fantasy, romance and historical fiction by someone who is both a great storyteller and an exceptional prose stylist. Compellingly readable and impossible to put down, Morgenstern takes readers on a whirlwind journey spanning across two continents and decades of time within the tents of the mysterious and magical Le Cirque de Reves with a most compelling cast of characters ranging from its eccentric owner Chandresh Christoph Levevre to its most devoted fan and clockmaker Friedrick Stefan Thiessen, and last, but not least, the contortionist, fortune-teller and magicians of the circus itself. This is an epic tale of love and a titanic battle of wits between two young illusionists, Celia Bowen and Marco Alasdair, engaged in a relentless competition of magic overseen by their enigmatic, mercurial masters; a game in which only one of them can survive, a game witnessed by the entire circus and its fans, as they conjure exceptional feats of magic, and a game which defines their lives and threatens their unexpected, quite passionate, love for each other. A game which is the latest in a series of competitions that have lasted for decades, between Celia's father, Hector Bowen, the magician Prospero the Enchanter, and the elusive, enigmatic man in the grey suit. With "The Night Circus", Morgenstern has written a tale as captivating and mesmerizing as any written by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, China Mieville, and Haruki Murakami; it is indeed a work of genius which will be compared favorably with theirs as an instant classic of fantasy and mainstream literature.
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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.
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