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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus (edition 2012)

by Erin Morgenstern

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6,793715543 (4.09)1 / 788
Title:The Night Circus
Authors:Erin Morgenstern
Info:Anchor (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:19th century, circus, fantasy, fiction, historical fiction, illusion, magic, magic realism, magicians, romance, read 2013, 35 before 35

Work details

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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English (702)  Dutch (4)  German (3)  Chinese (1)  Swedish (1)  Turkish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (713)
Showing 1-5 of 702 (next | show all)
When people ask if I liked this book, the only response I can give them is a shrug of the shoulders and an "eh". Granted this is better than a glare at the mention of the name followed by an outpouring of hateful statements...but not much. In short, The Night Circus was utterly forgettable.

I found myself confused while I was reading this book for multiple reasons. The first being that I couldn't help but think that this felt more like a young adult book. Maybe it was the cover, or maybe it was because of the lack of overtly adult themes that would make it geared toward adults. Whatever it was, something in the back of my mind kept telling me that this was marketed to the wrong audience but somehow became popular being put in the wrong genre. However, I could just be going insane.

The second thing that was confusing as I was reading was the timeline. This book isn't told in a linear progression but instead hops back forth between past, future and present. While it started coming together and making sense toward the end of the book, the timeline should have been making sense earlier. I believe the only reason it started making sense in the end was because it started going back a forth between two different years, instead of Morgenstern trying to jump around to seemingly random years when she didn't have to. It made it difficult to put together what happened when, which was frustrating for me.

As to the characters, I found that I didn't much care about what happened to them. They were flat, with little to no character growth. I felt no attachment or loathing toward any of them and found them rather uninteresting. Whenever some depth was marginally introduced into a character it was never mentioned again and never built on. It almost felt like Morgenstern was afraid to really delve into the characters and instead focused on those surface traits that don't take much effort to understand and unpack.

The plot was unexceptional. From what I had heard and read about this book before reading it, I was expecting there to be lots of adventure and drama. I discovered, however, that this was not the case. Basically, it's a story about a circus and two magicians that compete against each other but fall in love. It was pretty white bread as excitement goes. I wouldn't call the competition "fierce" as the synopsis would indicate. I would call it more lukewarm.

Overall, I found this book disappointing and despite the fact that it's not very long and it's a very fast read, it took me forever to finish it. Not from a lack a time, but lack of interest. Basically, I managed to get through it without hating it, but also not really caring about it either. It's possible I'm becoming more cynical as the pile of disappointing books gets progressively larger, but I honestly don't see what made this book so popular. My advice is the same as that I gave for The Fault in Our Stars. If you just want something quick to read without thinking about anything, go ahead and read this one. If you want to read something that you will remember for longer than a couple weeks after you're done finishing it, don't bother with this book. I've already forgotten half of it, and I finished it last night. ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
The Night Circus is a charmer that is nearly impossible to put down. Set in the late 1800s, it invokes a beautifully rendered circus that, thank goodness, has nothing to do with clowns or elephants, and is only open at night. Inside instead are endless marvels of dream-like enchantment. There is an ice garden where the flowers and trees are made of ice and snow. Another tent is dark inside, with little stoppered bottles that, when opened, release scents that transport the visitor to lovely locales and favorite memories. At the entrance stands an amazing clock:

The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual paper pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played.
At the center, where a cuckoo bird would live in a more traditional timepiece, is the juggler.

A young girl and boy, Celia and Marco, have been trained as magicians by rather selfish, arrogant mentors, and set at one another at the circus. What is not expected is that they will fall in love. Their contest becomes more of a collaboration, as they create amazing new tent exhibits for each other, and eventually begin to combine their efforts, much to the consternation of their mentors. Other characters, such as the contortionist Tsukiko, the clockmaker Friedrick Thiessen, and the architect Mr. Barris, try to help them. But the contest has been designed for a single winner.

This book is like a vacation between paper covers. Away you go to the Night Circus. ( )
2 vote jnwelch | Jan 24, 2015 |
This is going to sound backhanded but really, it is a compliment: this novel is superficiality at its best.

Just as stage magic is superficial - i.e., it looks real until you examine it closer -, the novel is a beautifully lush, descriptive work with a flimsy premise. Yet, who cares about what the premise is when you can get cinematic scenes of impossible illusions such as a ship made of books with sails made of pages sailing on a sea of ink? Who cares about the characters' one-notedness and their inexplicable motivations when you can have an awe-inspiring, intricate clocks of the utmost workmanship? Who cares about the predictable romance and its predictable potential obstacles when you can have a circus with an elaborate garden made entirely of ice or a cross-section account of Blumenthal-esque gustatory delights or innumerable bottles of olfaction-induced memories?

Okay, I care a little. (one star off) ( )
  kitzyl | Jan 19, 2015 |
I loved this...very interesting switch between third and second person chapters. And an interesting enough story that when my kindle ran out of juice I stood at the wall plugged in to the socket to finish the last three chapters.[b:The Night Circus|9361589|The Night Circus|Erin Morgenstern|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1303529181s/9361589.jpg|14245059]
  Kelley.Logan | Jan 16, 2015 |
This one is hard. The writing kept me going and guaranteed that [b:The Night Circus|9361589|The Night Circus|Erin Morgenstern|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387124618s/9361589.jpg|14245059] would not get a place on my "should-get-a-prize-for-finishing" shelf, but I can't conjure any particularly strong feelings for [b:The Night Circus|9361589|The Night Circus|Erin Morgenstern|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387124618s/9361589.jpg|14245059]. ( )
  IsaboeOfLumatere | Jan 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 702 (next | show all)
Magic without passion is pretty much a trip to Pier One: lots of shrink-wrapped candles. One wishes Morgenstern had spent less time on the special effects and more on the hauntingly unanswerable question that runs, more or less ignored, through these pages: Can children love who were never loved, only used as intellectual machines? What kind of magic reverses that spell? It’s not as pretty a spectacle, but that’s a story that grips the heart.
I am a reader who should have hated this novel; yet I found it enchanting, and affecting, too, in spite of its sentimental ending. Morgenstern's patient, lucid construction of her circus – of its creators and performers and followers – makes for a world of illusion more real than that of many a realist fiction. There is a matter-of-factness about the magicians' magic, a consistency about the parameters of the circus world, that succeeds both in itself and as a comment upon the need for and nature of illusion in general. While the novel's occasional philosophical gestures seem glib ("You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream"), the book enacts its worldview more satisfyingly than could any summary or statement. Rather than forcing its readers to be prisoners in someone else's imagination, Morgenstern's imaginary circus invites readers to join in an exploration of the possible.
Underneath the icy polish of her prose, Morgenstern well understands what makes The Night Circus tick: that Marco and Celia, whether in competition or in love, are part of a wider world they must engage with but also transcend. It’s a world whose mystique and enigma is hard to shake off, and that invites multiple visits.
The Night Circus is one of those books. One of those rare, wonderful, transcendent books that, upon finishing, you want to immediately start again.
The book itself looks beautiful but creaky plotting and lifeless characters leave The Night Circus less than enchanting
added by ncgraham | editThe Observer, Olivia Laing (Sep 11, 2011)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erin Morgensternprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dale, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fontana, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jakobeit, BrigitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koay, Pei LoiDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Musselwhite, HelenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
The circus arrives without warning.
Follow your dreams, Bailey, she says. Be they Harvard or something else entirely. No matter what that father of yours says, or how loudly he might say it. He forgets that he was someone's dream once himself.
Children are dragged away with promises that they may return the next evening, though the circus will not be there the next evening and later those children will feel slighted and betrayed.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.
I do not like being left in the dark. I am not particularly fond of believing in impossible things.
You're not destined or chosen, I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it's not true. You're in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that's enough.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A circus known as Le Cirque des Reves features two illusionists, Celia and Marco, who are unknowingly competing in a game to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters, and as the two fall deeply and passionately in love with each other, their masters intervene with dangerous consequences.
Haiku summary
Magicians in love
Forced to duel at the circus
Put on a great show.
Where a boy bears lovers' dreams
with a seer of stars
and night goes on forever.
A light and airy
Feast for the senses. But wait,
Darkness lurks beneath.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307744434, Paperback)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: Erin Morgenstern’s dark, enchanting debut takes us to the black and white tents of Le Cirque des Reves, a circus that arrives without warning, simply appearing when yesterday it was not there. Young Celia and Marco have been cast into a rivalry at The Night Circus, one arranged long ago by powers they do not fully understand. Over time, their lives become more intricately enmeshed in a dance of love, joy, deceit, heartbreak, and magic. Author Morgenstern knows her world inside and out, and she guides the reader with a confident hand. The setting and tone are never less than mesmerizing. The characters are well-realized and memorable. But it is the Night Circus itself that might be the most memorable of all. --Chris Schluep

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:46 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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