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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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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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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 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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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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on June 1, 2012
This is a truly enchanting book that fully deserves comparisons to the many dreams referenced within. I found myself reading this book excruciatingly slowly, never more than a chapter at a time,so that I could savor every page. The vibrant imagery and tight storytelling make it a joy to read and leaves you wishing the story never ends. Morgenstern has a real gift for descriptive passages that make full use of all five senses. While it doesn't have many unexpected twists, it is a thoroughly satisfying read. Her characters could easily fall into cliches or stereotypes but, in my opinion, avoids that dullness and remain sympathetic and compelling. The magic used in the novel is perfectly balanced between imaginative and traditional. The love story she weaves seems unavoidable but is still sweetly touching and does justice to the characters. Several of the more minor characters really shine in their uniqueness, but the main draw is the Circus. After reading the novel, you'll feel like a Reveur (a follower of the Circus) as well.

I'm aware this review is more than effusive in its praises but I truly enjoyed the novel. One of my favorites this year.
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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 April 6, 2014
The Night Circus brings you into the midst of a universe of dreams. A place where the smell of caramel wafts through the air and the lights glow magically under the night sky, for the circus only takes place at night and no one knows when it will arrive or when it leaves. Every tent flap you lift brings you into a realm more enchanting than the next.

However all is not as magical as it seems behind the scenes of Le Cirque de Rêves, for the circus is only a platform for a duel being played out between two rivals. A duel that is a game of wits and imagination. From a young age Celia and Marcus have been trained by their respective masters for this challenge, however no one expected them to fall hopelessly in love with each other and from that moment on everything changes…

The Night Circus is simply amazing, a must read. I’m an avid reader and I read this book in 24 hours. This book is a page turner, once you start you won’t be able to put it down. A stellar debut novel for Erin Morgenstern. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Read this book, you won’t regret it!
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