Early Review: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternHow did I get it: Doubleday was awesome and kind enough to send me an Advanced Reader Copy. Night Circus comes out on September 13th.

Why did I read it: I love anything related to the circus or magic so this just sounded absolutely perfect. I also think this is also the nicest Advanced Reader Copy I’ve yet to recieve.

How I would rate it: 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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.

Review: By rights, I ought to have finished this book ages ago. It wasn’t very long and it was positively mesmerizing, but I just knew I’d be beyond sad when I was done and had to leave it behind. Night Circus has a fantastic concept, boundless visual stimulation, beautiful details, and haunting turn of phrase that made for really enjoyable reading. I never felt like Morgenstern was trying to be clever for the sake of being clever. Nor did I think she was trying to make her story overly complicated, which is something that tends to happen a lot in fiction with fantastical elements.

Initially, I was a slightly disappointed by the lack of dark weirdness, overwhelming suspense, or really action-packed conflict. Once I pushed past my expectations, I was really, really fascinated by Morgenstern’s vision. Her creativity, writing, and descriptions were really exquisite so even if the book wasn’t always what I expected, I loved what I was given from start to finish. More importantly and much like the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents that inspired her, Morgenstern created her own unique blend of Night Circus. There were flashes of the sinister, a liberal sprinkling of mystery, a bit of intrigue and a lot of magical wonder.

I liked all of the characters particularly Tsukiko, Poppet, Widget, and Bailey. The twins and Bailey sort of stole the book out from under Celia and Marco in my opinion. Some of that I suspect has to do with the Marco’s and Celia’s challenge, the way they’re both being used by two outside, uninvolved players, and again the distracting aspect of the circus setting. Knowing that the circus and what they created for it was meant to reflect them definitely helped me to connect to them better during the second half of the book. Besides, it was impossible not to care about them given their back stories and the way events unfolded. So I was happy with how they found one another and that they found someone to understand them properly.

In conclusion, an excellent, thought-provoking, and elegantly crafted debut of a novel. I still maintain that the best part of the circus is the freak show as well as the weirdness that can be assigned to its attractions though so if that’s what you’re after I would suggest taking at least a peek at Geek Love by Katherine Dunn and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury but only before or after reading Night Circus. Because Night Circus is worth checking out, deserving of the praise it has been recieving, and a book that I would heartily recommend to people wishing they too could visit or live at a magical circus. It might not have been flawless and I wish there had been more risk-taking, but Morgenstern told a dazzling, memorable, and marvelous story. And really that’s all that matters.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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5 Responses to Early Review: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Wonderful review. And great to hear you loved it so you didn’t want to quit reading. 🙂 Sounds like so much amazing detail here. Thank you!

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