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review 2017-03-20 23:48
The Night Circus
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

A monochromatic festival of wonder and intrigue suddenly appears in your town and you can’t wait until the sun goes down to explore it.  The Night Circus is a wondrous, fantastic journey into magic, romance, and the consequences of both.  Author Erin Morgenstern brought forth engaging characters and a twisting plot that keeps the reader engaged throughout the book.


The central plot focuses on Celia Bowen and Marco Alistair, who are selected and groomed to compete against one another in the book’s titular location by their instructors.  Throughout Celia and Marco’s competition, they struggle not with their feelings for one another but with “the rules” of the game and how a winner will be determined but as it continues on how their competition is affecting the lives of the circus performers and those connected to the circus.  As the game continues, the two youngest members of the circus—twins, Poppet and Widget Murray—and their circusgoer friend, Bailey, become more and more important as both Celia and Marco look for ways to end their competition in the safest way possible.


From the outset Morgenstern creates a wonderful, lively setting that instantly gets the reader into magical journey they are about to take.  Through the use of three different temporal narrative arcs intertwined throughout the book, the whole history of the creation and running of “The Circus of Dreams” to the present-day.  This creative decision produced an intricate story that while giving the whole picture of the story by the end, does unfortunately result in a reader missing some details that enhances the story making a rereading necessary.  Yet, because of how good this book is, a reread in the future would be something to look forward to.


The magically wonderful tale that is The Night Circus is a festival to any reader.  While the twisting, interwoven time period narratives create an amazing plot even while missing a few details in the first read; this book is solid in plot and characters making an engaging read.

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review 2017-02-03 19:19
The Night Circus
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

The first thing that drew me to The Night Circus was the cover. I just love everything about it. But, that was also the reason I was hesitant to read it. When I love a cover, I want to love the story just as much. When I don't, it kills my cover-love. I didn't want to be turned off this cover. But, I liked the idea of the story a lot so I decided to finally jump in.


I'm not sure how to review this book. I went in knowing only the synopsis provided, and I'm glad. I think this book is best when discovered while reading. I will say that there were moments along the way when I thought it was dragging out. I'm not one who likes a lot of description in books, and this book is saturated it in. There would be chapters dedicated to describing tents and what went on inside. They didn't feel as if they served any purpose other than trying to immerse the reader in the world of the circus. However, as I finished the book I realized that each of those tents served as a sort of character description. Not only for the circus itself, which I think was meant to feel as though it were a living thing, but also of the characters who created them. I also realized that much of the way that Celia and Marco fell in love was through the tents they created. Those seemingly needless chapters served an important purpose, although it was subtle and many readers may miss that point as I almost did (or perhaps they won't agree with me, which is fine).


It's also a tale of two schools of thought when it comes to how magic should be done. Is one better than the other, or is there an argument that the best outcome is when they are combined?

I ended up loving The Night Circus. It's the first book I've read where I wished it were a TV series so I could get lost in it each week for a long, long time.

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review 2016-09-03 00:00
The Night Circus
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern Please note that I gave this book 1.5 stars and rounded it up to 2 stars on Goodreads.

I always feel out of step withe everyone after I read a book that has been almost universally raved and I can't stand it. I loved the cover, the premise, this whole book sounded right up my alley. And then I started to read it.

"The Night Circus" is about two men who ultimately set up a competition between two people where they don't explain the rules besides saying now and again one of you has to win in the end.

Ceila arrives on her father's doorstep when she is six and he realizes she has the same talent that he does to manipulate things around him. He then introduces her to a man in a grey suit (seriously he is always in grey and half the time I forgot his name) and lays a wager. Ceila knows that one day she and another person are going to be in a duel until one of them wins. She just doesn't know when it is going to start. The man in grey goes to an orphanage and picks a boy and takes him to train. So the book goes back and forth between them. We see Ceila being emotionally and physically abused by her father. And we see Marco treated like an annoyance at best.

Then we fast forward to a character named Chandresh Christophe Lefevre who has invited some other guests to his home in order to have them help him with his idea of an circus. These other characters (who we revisit again and again) are Ethan Barris, Tante Padva, and Tara and Lainie Burgess. We then have the beginnings of "Le Cirque des RĂªves" or the Circus of Dreams.

Ceila goes and gets a job at the circus, while Marco uses a woman who he knows is in love with him to also get a job at the circus when Marco realizes that Ceila is his competitor. So we get the barest of motivations by two terrible men and we have Ceila and Marco realizing that the circus is to be their venue to show which one is better.

Like I said before, I liked Ceila. I think that she was definitely stronger than Marco. However, I had a big problem with the love story aspect of the book. I honestly did not think that she cared or was attracted to Marco. In fact, I thought she and another character were attracted to each other. Frankly. that at least would have made the book marginally more interesting.

Marco sucked. I hated his character from beginning to end. I think it's because he did whatever he wanted and justified it. He used one woman and justified it later by saying that he never said he loved her. He manipulated one poor man's mind and it was causing him to go slowly insane and acted as if it was the man's fault. I can go on. I just thought he was terrible.

The other characters in this book didn't do it for me. We have two twins (Poppet and Widget) born in the circus who I thought the book was setting them up one way, but ultimately not in the end. We have the character of Bailey who I was interested in, but honestly don't see why he was even introduced and the hand-waving to make him suddenly important was a joke. The only interesting thing about Bailey was his connection to Poppet.

The writing was lyrical at first. And then it pretty much all fell down after a while. It started to get way too purple prose for me and the repetitiveness of certain words used over and over again started to make me bored while reading (not a good thing). In fact, I want to know if Erin Morgenstern knows about any spice besides cinnamon or anything that does not have caramel on it since that seemed to be the only thing that she ever kept saying over and over again besides cocoa. I don't like books telling you that the dish that came out was the best thing ever and then don't describe it, or when they do, it sounds terrible, like a pigeon covered in cinnamon does not sound appetizing to me. Oh you will be happy to know that somehow the circus even invented cinnamon buns (yeah).

The only writing that I really did like was the first person chapters when the author made you part of the book and had you exploring the circus. That made it feel more real to me. But other than that, this book dragged terribly.Also for a book that is supposed to take place in the late 1800s and early 1900s it sure as heck did not read that way to me at all. At one point I even said to myself how in the world do they have a train that somehow can cross across oceans apparently since they are traveling to the United States, as well as London, China, etc. I know, I know, magic, but it's little stuff like that when not explained that bugged me immensely while reading.

The flow was awful. I had to keep checking the chapter heading to keep an eye on the date/year and who the chapter would be about. We bounced between Marco, Ceila, Bailey, a man who created the clock at the circus, the planners of the circus, Marco's lover Isobel. It was too many people. I think it would have been better to have focused on the world-building aspect of it. I still don't get how Marco was able to manipulate certain things. I got Ceila's ability a bit more because we actually got to see how she was trained by her father (who is a psychopath). The timeline got messed up towards the end. We read about an event, and suddenly it is a year later and I honestly said what when that happened. I feel like I missed several pages.

The setting of the circus sounded great, but there was a lot that was not explained very well. And the duel itself was pretty much a joke. My big problem with most of the book though is that Erin Morgenstern does not do a great job of showing how in the world Ceila is as connected to the circus as she is. There is a whole plot point concerning Ceila and the circus that came out of left field. Considering she was not one of the original planners and had nothing to do with the setup I don't get it. I would get the circus being able to be harmed if one of the original people who set it up was in danger or died.

Also things were thrown in there here and there and I would have liked if that had been set up while we read. For example, it comes up that the Burgess sisters were behind living statues in the circus. Well that is not even introduced until around the 60 or 70 percent into the book. There were things like that all over. A detail would be provided and it was implied that was the way it always had been that had not been set up properly at all.

The ending was a joke. I rolled my eyes so hard. And it was laughable at best on how it was left that the story of the night circus was told.
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review 2016-08-26 03:10
The Night Circus
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

On the surface, The Night Circus seems like a book I’d love. It’s got some magic, a historical setting, a nonlinear structure, beautiful writing, and is heavy on description. But, is it possible to have too much of a good thing?


Seriously, if I have to read one more long-winded description of a circus act, I’m going to lose my mind.


The Night Circus follows a group of characters who set up a magic circus. Two of these characters, Marco and Celia, are illusionists who have been trained since birth for a competition that will take place between them, but life becomes messy when they fall in love and try to end the competition.


“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”  - The Night Circus


This is one of those books that leave you in awe of the writing. The author is massively talented and has a big imagination. Even though there is too much description, this book has the richest imagery I’ve come across in a long time. I actually reread pages because the writing is so detailed and atmospheric, and I wanted to know how the author did it.


But, I think the mysterious atmosphere turned out to be a double-edged sword. The atmosphere held my interest, but in order to create it, the author has to keep the reader very distant from the characters. The characters always know more than the reader, and we’re not allowed into their heads very often. I never felt like I knew them or connected with them. I never got invested in their lives.


The characters are kept mysterious, and the plot is, too. Actually, the book doesn’t have much of a plot. It meanders from event to event. Even the competition between Marco and Celia isn’t as suspenseful as the synopsis makes it seem. For most of the novel, the reader doesn’t know the stakes or rules of the contest. We’re expected to go along with what’s happening without knowing the reasons behind it.


The competition actually turns out to be kind of anticlimactic. There’s no head-to-head duel or dramatic action scenes. Basically, Marco and Celia have to keep making the circus bigger and more extravagant until one of them becomes exhausted and can’t do it anymore. They have to keep trying to out-pretty each other. Since magic can be done from a distance, Celia and Marco aren’t even on the same continent for most of the story.


“I am tired of trying to hold things together that cannot be held. Trying to control what cannot be controlled. I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix. They will break no matter what we do.” – The Night Circus


I also questioned why the story is set in the late 1800s/early 1900s. I’m not a history expert, but some of the small details seem wrong, and the characters don’t observe the social etiquette of the time. The setting adds mystery, but it also distracted me.


I think the synopsis might be misleading because readers can interpret it in different ways. If you like slow-paced literary fiction with beautiful writing, then you’ll love this book. If you go into it expecting a fantasy story with bold characters and a lot of action, then you’ll probably find it flat and lacking suspense.


This book didn’t give me everything I wanted, but the writing kept me happily reading.


“I couldn't tell the difference between what was real and what I wanted to be real.” – The Night Circus

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review 2016-08-23 16:34
Romantic fantasy tale - unusual but well worth it
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

This romantic fantasy tale is well worth a look, reminding me a bit of "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" in that it deals with magic in a historical era. A challenge is set between two users of magic and this results in the creation of the Night Circus and the impact this has on the general public and a few selected characters who have helped ot create and run the Circus. Where does reality begin and end? Or is it all a fantasy?

Well-written with plenty of character development, it is quite engaging and well worth a read.

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