The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Goodreads | Amazon
Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Magical Realism
Published by Doubleday
Released September 13, 2011
Note: This is a repost. This review was originally published on February 4, 2019.
I first heard of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus through one of the videos of my favorite booktuber, Hannah at A Clockwork Reader. Since I seem to have very similar reading tastes to her, when she described it as the best book she’d ever read, I figured I’d give it a shot.
While it didn’t end up being my favorite book, I still thought it was absolutely amazing. The best word to describe this novel would be whimsical. Erin Morgenstern’s writing was beautiful without being over the top or too flowery. Everything flowed so nicely.
The synopsis I’m going to share might be a little bit vague, but I truly believe this is one of those books you should go into without knowing too much. I also want to avoid spoilers.
The story follows a traveling circus which is only open at night. No one knows ahead of time where the circus is going to be – it just appears mysteriously one day. The circus is filled with amazing tents of all variety, along with acrobats, fortune tellers, illusionists, and so much more.
The circus is much more than it seems, however, since it serves as a sort of playing field for two magicians, Alexander and Prospero. Each magician raises their “player” who are bound to one another in a competition, even though the players aren’t aware of each other at first and they aren’t even sure what they’re supposed to be doing to win this “competition.”
That’s all that I feel comfortable saying about the plot itself without giving too much away, but you can always read the publisher’s synopsis over on Goodreads.
I want to talk about the atmosphere of The Night Circus, as it was definitely my favorite aspect of the novel. The circus itself sounds beautiful, with everything in shades of black, white, and gray. Then you have the individual tents at the circus, my favorite among them being the Ice Garden. Morgenstern is very talented at making you feel as though you’re standing right in the middle of her landscapes. It’s always so easy to imagine, even when the setting itself is full of magic.
The characters were great, and I found myself loving so many of them. Celia and Marco, for sure, but also Bailey, Poppet, Widget, and so many more. I would say the main draw of this book is the setting, but it’s still just as much a character-driven novel, and most of the characters are well-developed.
The only (very tiny) complaint I had with this novel was that there were times when I felt that things were moving a wee bit too slow. It wasn’t so bad that it hurt the story, but I could understand other readers getting a bit annoyed with the pacing.
From what I’ve read on Goodreads, The Night Circus seems to be a very polarizing book, with people either loving it or hating it. I tend to love slow-paced but beautiful books, so I’m not surprised that I was one of the people who ended up loving it.
Ultimately, while I wouldn’t recommend this novel to everyone, I would recommend it to people looking for something fantastical and whimsical.