The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Book Review

The Night Circus is a fantasy novel by Erin Morgenstern released in 2011. She initially wrote the book as an entry for the annual writing competition: National Novel Writing Month.

The Night Circus ratings
The Night Circus ratings

The novel describes a non-linear writing pattern, written from multiple-viewpoints.

The Night Circus was nominated for the ‘Guardian First Book Award’ in 2011. It won from the American Library Association, an Alex Award in 2012. It also spent 7 weeks as the New York Times Bestseller’s List and also number 2 on the fiction list.

The book was also published in more than 12 languages by 2013. It also won the Locus Award for best novel.

About the Author: Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern booksloveme
Author: Erin Morgenstern (Photo from Instagram)

Erin Morgenstern is an American Multimedia artist, raised in Marshfield, Masachussetts. She is also the author of two fantasy novels.

Erin studied theatre and studio art from Smith College in Northampton. She graduated in the year 2000.

Besides writing, she also paints, mostly in acrylic, including The phantomwise tarot deck. Her work was initially rejected by 30 literary agents.

She finally signed with Inkwell Management in May 2010 and sold her debut novel to Doubleday in September 2010.

Her second book, The Starless Sea, was released in 2019.

Currently, she lives in New York City.

List of characters:

From all characters, the description of few is available below:

Prospero the Enchanter:

Hector Bowen is a magician who earns his living by performing on the stage. He is competitive and ambitious, a little too much in fact.

Unfortunately, for his daughter, he is a strict and cruel parent. He tests her limit and pushes her too far. Far enough to slice her fingers and make her heal them by herself.

To his credit, he is strict with himself too. He pushed himself too far, resulting in the loss of his body, but manages to stay alive.

Celia Bowen:

Hector’s daughter and the female lead of the story. Despite being constantly tormented by her father, she is a kind and empathetic woman.

She is also capable of self-sacrifice for the sake of love, as we will see later in the story.

Marco Alisdair:

Celia’s opponent in the game of magic. He spent most of his life traveling, reading and learning under the guidance of the mysterious man in the grey suit.

Chandresh Christopher Lefevre:

The owner and proprietor of Le Cirque de Reves.  Not only is he Marco’s and Celia’s employer, but he is also their friend and a victim of the side effects of their game.

Tante Padva:

The official fashion designer for the night circus.

Mr. Ethan E Barris:

The mastermind behind the engineering works of the Circus.

The Burgess Sisters:

The lovely twins, Tara and Lainie, who are a bit of everything. They act, dance and sing.

They are probably the first in the team who are suspicious of the magical goings-on in the circus.

Tsukiko:

The contortionist who later becomes one of Celia’s best friends

Herr Thiesen Frederick:

The clockmaker that is commissioned by Baris to make something wondrous for the circus. He ends up making the most enchanting clock ever, which adorns the entrance to the museum. He becomes very close with Celia.

Bailey:

A kid whose destiny is intertwined with the survival of the circus.

The Night Circus Book Review

The Circus arrives

without warning

No announcements

precede it…

It is simply there, when

Yesterday it was not

Prospero the Enchanter is the most famous magician of all. His shows and tricks are so enchanting, it’s difficult to believe they are just tricks…but are they?

The Night Circus Cover Page
The Night Circus Cover Page

One day he receives a package- a 5-year-old girl with a suicide note pinned to her coat from her mother. It doesn’t take much time for him to realize that the kid is his own.

And that she, Celia Bowen also possesses powers like his. He sees this as an opportunity to set in motion a competition.

A contest of enchantments, a dangerous game involving his own daughter. Celia Bowen now finds herself bound magically to this game of magic as one of the two contestants. Her opponent: unknown.

Marco Alisdair has lived in an orphanage as long as he can remember. One day, when he was 9, a mysterious man in a grey suit arrives to pick him up.

Since then he has been trained by this man in the art of magic and enchantment, known to Marco as Mr. A. H.

The Game of Enchantments

Marco has the instructions that he is going to play a dangerous game of enchantments when the time comes, against another contestant.

But like Celia, he is kept in the dark on who his opponent is or what the rulesof this game are.

The Night Circus Insights
The Night Circus Insights

Both the competitors know only the one thing: the venue. The Night Circus is the brainchild of the best theatrical producer in the industry.

Le Cirque des Reves is Chandresh Christopher Lefevre’s biggest project- A circus adorned with black and white tents that travels the world and shows up in cities with no fore-warning.

The tents are filled with various dazzling feasts for the eyes- an illusionist, a fortune-teller, contortionists, an ice garden, a maze and even one filled with bottled memories. And so much more.

Marco works on this project as Chandresh’s assistant, and Celia as the illusionist. Together they change the lives of not only their own but everyone else involved with the circus too.

With a beautiful romance, perfect world building, dazzling character development and backstories, The Night Circus is one of the best fantasy fairy-tale novels out there.

A feast for the mind, an excessively imaginative story, this masterpiece is a must read for all.

Building the Fantasy World:

Unlike many other fantasy novels that create a world of its own, a world where readers are magically transported into but something totally intangible and sometimes unrelatable, Erin Morgenstern embeds her story within our own.

She created this beautiful circus, that after reading the book, you will want to visit with all your heart. You will see it clearly in your dreams because that’s how amazingly she has worded it.

The reader will be able to literally see the black and white circus, feel the surrounding, the cold of the ice garden, smell the smoke of the silver fire and the food, and be amazed by Celia’s illusions as if you are part of the audience.

You will go back to re-reading it multiple times until you have the story and so many quotes memorized.

Maybe, you will fall in love with the characters, be hurt when they are hurt and will definitely start yearning to know what the future holds for them.

You will identify yourself as a Reveur, a dreamer, a fan of The Night Circus.

From the most beautiful romance, magic, enchantments and illusions, to friendships that will span over lifetimes, this book has everything.

If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic like me, then I assure you, you will love this one.

Structure of The Night Circus:

Morgenstern writes The Night Circus as an overlapping of time periods. Some chapters are in the past, some in the present and some in the future. And it is not necessarily in that order. They are mixed

It can be a little confusing at times, but it keeps the suspense alive. The ending might be foretold but the reader will want to keep reading it to find out how we got there.

Sometimes, the story moves but the ending is totally surprising as the different time periods come in between.

It’s refreshing and it plays with our minds making it take note of the chapter name, the year and place written beneath it.

These are things we usually tend to skip over. The story is like an interconnection of different stories and characters. Like a puzzle, the relation between every character and every place slowly unfolds as you read.

The story also spans over years, making you conscious of how the world has changed and is changing. Almost three different generations are mentioned.

The Night Circus is a very strategically written book, with the sole purpose of pulling the reader in, caging her in the story and not letting her out until the story is over.

A real page turner, it will keep you glued to the story and make you wish it never ended.

What I liked about The Night Circus:

Like? I LOVED everything about the book. For a booklover like me, it is difficult to choose a favourite.

But The Night Circus is what comes to my mind when someone asks that question. Which is unfair to all the other amazing books I’ve read, but I think it’s because how much this book has made me imagine.

read The Night Circus online
The Night Circus Back cover

Usually when we read, the structure or description of a place can get confusing. Such a thing is almost non-existent in The Night Circus.

Yes, everyone has a different picture and imagination of the setting but they are quite vivid. When I close my eyes and think of the circus or even Chandresh’s game room, or his parties or Marco and Celia’s first kiss, I can see the world I’ve made for myself behind my lids.

Even better, all my senses are alive. I can imagine waiting in line to buy a ticket, getting blinded by the colourful fire arrows, mesmerized by the grandfather clock, ravenous for the caramel apples or the apple cider vinegar and waiting for the circus to come again.

What I disliked:

If you’ve read the rest of the review, you know what my answer is. Might not be the same for everyone, because everyone has different tastes.

My sister wasn’t too much into the book because of the mixed timelines. Even I found it a little confusing at first, but it sort of grew on me.

Though there is a slight, tiny, teeny bit that I would’ve liked changed. The ending was a little confusing.

I’ve read The Night Circus twice, and I’m still not sure why it is and what it is. But it did make the story a lot more interesting.

This point shouldn’t get you to drop the book from your TBR list. As you can see I’ve worked hard to try to convince that it is a must-read.

Read it and if it doesn’t stay with you, it’s ok. But at least try. From a reader to another, I really don’t want you missing out on this captivating adventure.

The Night Circus Quotes:

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.”

“Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”

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