The Night Circus

TheNightCircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published: 9-13-11 by Doubleday
Get the book: Amazon, The 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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.


Design – John Fontana       Illustration – Helen Musselwhite       Rating – 5/5

I adore this cover. The illustration is by Helen Musselwhite, a ridiculously talented artist who creates intricately detailed scenes from paper. The circus in the book is always on the move, popping up around the world with little warning, and I love how the circus on the cover is shown in a hand like it’s a state of mind and not anchored to a location. The colors are perfect because the circus is all black and white, with touches of red coming in later. The way the clock tower is tied into the design around the title is wonderful. The only thing I’d change about this cover is the grey swirly tree shape on the arm because it draws my attention away from the circus and title.


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The Night Circus is a dreamlike book, telling the story of the people whose lives are entwined with the magical circus that only opens at night. A young man and young woman are drawn into a competition of magical displays – a lengthy duel that weaves other people’s lives together. While The Night Circus follows their competition from beginning to end, it also chronicles the lives of a few others whose lives are altered by the circus. This story is a grand fantasy, spanning continents and years, and I loved every second of it.


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  • slow romance – Celia and Marco don’t spend time together very often over the years. Instead, they use their abilities to communicate – conjuring awe-inspiring tents for the circus rather than writing love letters. When Celia and Marco do get to see each other, they have such great chemistry that it’s like electricity sparking in the air. Their chemistry is amazing, especially considering how little physical contact there is between them. Their romance is wonderful and sweet. They make big sacrifices to be together, and ultimately that’s all they want.
  • consequences – Both Celia and Marco’s mentors have a complete disregard for the lives and safety of others. Although the circus brings magic to the lives of its fans, the driving force behind the circus becomes dangerous. I like that the stakes are high, that the mentors are relentless, that some characters will not be content to stand by and watch while the duel destroys lives.
  • atmosphere – The circus itself is like a waking dream, full of tents yet lacking color. Everything in the circus is like its own separate world, and the circus is an entire world on its own. It’s a bit eerie and mysterious because it’s only in black and white, and only open at night, but it’s full of magic – both literally and figuratively. The whole book has the atmosphere of the circus – full of wonder and intrigue.
  • Poppet + Widget – While most of the characters in The Night Circus are either voluntarily involved in the duel or are drawn in, Poppet and Widget are a special case. They’re born into the circus, directly into the duel itself, and their entire lives are entwined in it. The twins are a bit of levity in a dark and complex story.

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  • time – I suppose, since the year is written at the start of each chapter, that I should’ve paid closer attention to how the timelines fit together. Sometimes, though, books set in the past like to remind you of the year, and the story just progresses chronologically. I didn’t even realize that some of the chapters were taking place a year later than chapters that came later in the book. Totally my fault, although I have a feeling that I would have forgotten, from chapter to chapter, what year everything was taking place anyway.

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“He may have also wished to control his own destiny, but I cannot be certain, as he did not consult me before he attempted it. Left me with a lot of questions to answer and a funeral to fake. Which is easier than you might suppose.”     – Celia  pg. 261


“There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise.”     – the man in the grey suit   pg. 377

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)


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