Archive Review – “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Review first published 29/01/2012

The Night Circus

Les Cirque des Reves is an unusual circus.  It never announces its arrival beforehand and it only opens in the evening.

In the midst of the circus’ many wonders, a magical duel is taking place between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained by their respective mentors since childhood expressly for this challenge.  But a flaw in the challenge occurs when Celia and Marco fall in love.

I read this book over a period of eight days, the longest since starting my book challenge for 2012 and with good reason.  This is a book that requires the reader’s attention throughout.

I was sucked in by the colourful world… well, predominantly monochrome when it comes to the circus itself, of this book.  There is a large central cast of characters who were well written and described for the reader with motivations being hidden and revealed when required.

The central location of the circus, as with all the locations of the book, is written to minute detail to draw the reader in.  You get the sensation and the thrill of the acts – from illusionist to paper animals, from The Labyrinth to the tarot reader.  You also get the general atmosphere of the circus – you feel the hustle and bustle of the queue and I swear that I could almost smell the aroma of toffee apples and popcorn.

Erin Morgenstern weaves a story where magic and romance are the core storylines, not just with Celia and Marco’s duel and their falling in love during the book, but with the “magical” effects of the circus as it bewitches it’s attendees to want more.  In addition to these themes, books and literature seem to be very important to this story – either by accident or design.  Marco has to study from and manipulate the world through books, Celia is banned from reading books by her mentor and the character of Widget is fascinated by books and is a voracious reader.  You even get a character who goes by the name of Prospero.

I did have difficulties with the book which were two-fold.  Firstly, the fact that the book is told in a non-linear point of view means that the reader is bounced around several different story threads at various different points in time of the story.  This means that the reader really has to concentrate as what seems like an unimportant piece of information in one time zone has a larger consequence in another.

The second difficulty for me was the second section of the book, which is larger than the sections that surround it.  This, alongside the point I raised above, meant that it was difficult to keep concentration of the narrative and I had to keep putting the book down and picking it up at a later time.

That said, by the end of the book, all the plot points were wrapped up and the story does come together to make an enjoyable read.

If you love books which have magic, romance and intrigue, and you’re not afraid to put in the effort of reading this book, you will be rewarded with a very good story.

Rating: 4/5

If you want to know more about Erin Morgenstern and her books, go to


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