Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern (site)
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 387
Release Date: 13th September 2011
Edition: Hardcover, Library Check-out
Goodreads | Book Depository


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.

"The circus arrives without warning."

The Night Circus is one of the best books I have read in 2016. It is the perfect blend of magic, dreams, love, family, and destiny. I am glad I read this novel when I am 21 instead of when it was released five years ago. To me, the story requires certain experience in life to comprehend.

First off, if you are looking for an action-packed magic duel story, then you should not read this book. This book is slow-paced, but every page has its purpose. They are like beads stringed up to form a bracelet. Some people may find the build-up boring, but I think it is to show readers how the two opponents train and how the encounters in their life shape them. This is what I think my 16-year-old self would not like to read about, and that is why I say the story will be better understood by older readers. Also, since I don't want to spoil anything, I'll just say that there are actually two stories going on in the whole book.

Celia and Marco are the chosen ones. They are bound to the challenge from young age, and has been searching for each other their whole life, wondering who it could be. The relationship between them is complicated because they are drawn to each other even though they are in a competition. Their use of magic are also different. One is natural-born magician, and the other one learns to use magic by studying. I'm really amazed by how Erin Morgenstern created two different characters that fit so well together.

"The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones."

Even though most of the chapters focuses on the two illusionists, the supporting characters still shine. The masters, the people who created the circus, the performers inside the circus and Bailey—every one has their own distinct personality and charm. Some you may hate, some you may love. My least favourite character is Prospero, but somehow I still anticipate his appearance.

As for the circus itself, I love everything about it. The black-and-white color scheme, the design of the tents, the fanciful clock, the smell of popcorn and caramel, and the midnight opening...I could go on and on about the whole circus, but I think it is best you step into it yourself. I also think it is a wonderful choice for it to be the venue of the duel. How easy it is to conceal real magic! I love the impact the circus have not only on the people involved in it, but also the ones who enter it.

"And I love the circus. I felt like I finally had a home, a place I could belong."

What I love most about this book is Erin Morgenstern's whimsical writing. I was drawn to the novel the second I read the first line. The world-building is slow but playful. She also manages to write many quotable lines. I love each page more and more as I read on. As far as I know, she has not published another novel yet, I don't know if she ever will.

The Night Circus will be an enjoyable read for readers who like magic, foreshadowing, fairytale, and whimsical writing. You will be left wanting for more and calling yourself a rêveur by the end of the novel.

Read an excerpt here.

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