Book review: the Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Paraphrased from Goodreads

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. 

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air. 

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. 

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way: a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. The circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved are swept up in a wake of spells and charms. But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love, a deep, passionate, and magical love. Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

5/5 stars

Wow is all I can say about this book.

This is probably the best written book I’ve read this year. Yes, Red Rising is well written and fantastic too, but this is different. It’s written in a way that’s almost magical. It’s like poetry, but prose. It’s just lovely to read.

Reading through the Goodreads reviews, this book seems to be a book that depends on your preference. I think overall it depends on what you prioritize in books. If you like fast-paced, intense, action-packed books, then this is definitely not for you. It is definitely slow. The plot takes a while to develop. The reader is in the dark about a lot of things for a really long time. If you like character development, this book probably isn’t for you.

However, if you’re like me and you can look past slow plot and little character development and can instead enjoy a well-written book with an incredible setting, then you’ll love this book.

I love the setting of this book. It’s magical and wonderful. It’s mysterious yet real. It’s gothic but not too gothic. Someone on Goodreads said it’s a setting-centred book rather than a plot or character-centred book, and I totally agree (although I do think it’s also very character-driven but that’s my opinion). The reviewer was insinuating this was a bad thing, but I loved it.

I love the descriptions of everything. I love the magical realism. It just works with the setting.

I love the circus. If I could go to one fictional place, it would be this circus. Yes, even more than Hogwarts.

I love the characters. They’re wonderful characters, and I loved reading about every single one of them. Celia and Marco are fantastic main characters. All the side characters were so lovely. I loved reading about all of them.

I love the time line. The plot takes place over 15+ years, which I thought allowed for the plot and characters and setting to develop. I liked that it took a while, because it meant we got to be with the characters for longer.

In short, I love everything. I just adored this book and will definitely be rereading it soon.

(one kind of side note that’s stuck with me and is very very very minor but it’s been bugging me: there’s one part where it goes like such:

A [Marco’s] shadow fell over him [Chandresh].


“He has no shadow.” [Chandresh, of Marco]

BUT MARCO HAS NO SHADOW HOW CAN A SHADOW FALL OVER CHANDRESH IF MARCO HAS NO SHADOW. Sorry I just had to point out that one inconsistency)

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts if you have?

Thanks for reading!
Ally xx

23 thoughts on “Book review: the Night Circus

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