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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus (edition 2012)

by Erin Morgenstern

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8,503864362 (4.09)1 / 876
Title:The Night Circus
Authors:Erin Morgenstern
Info:Anchor (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites

Work details

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Showing 1-5 of 857 (next | show all)
This was an interesting tale of magic combined with intrigue and a slight romantic tale. It was interesting, but I kept feeling that the secrets of the Night Circus could have been wither more magical or more mysterious. Towards the end, I feel it played out like a 1950's Soap Opera and it was nice and neatly packaged up. Kinda a let down, I wanted more "I can do better" competition and dark twisted happenings within the circus. I feel like it just touched the iceberg of what could have happened. ( )
  JeffreyNattania | Aug 29, 2016 |
Interesting and creative read.Didn't like the jumpy timelines. The mystery and fairy tale aspect is too drawn out,which took the fun out of the mystery for me. I thought the character development was lacking. For me it was like watching magic, always "looking for the trick" and not enjoying the performance.My grandparents were magicians so I am happy that magicians may be the next hot thing in books. For me this book wasn't it. ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
I have a neurological quirk called synaesthesia, in which a stimulus to one sense produces a simultaneous response from another. One of the strongest ways that manifests for me is that when I listen to music, the music has colour; I like to take those colours and spin images and daydreams out of them, so in my mind it’s a little like wandering through vibrant clouds and castles made of song. This is a very difficult thing to describe to people who do not have it. Le Cirque des Rêves of The Night Circus feels like something a synaesthetic mind would whisk up during a powerful song: Snatches of colour caught and shaped into a dream that marches to its own rhythm, and fades with the music’s end. Something that a minority of people can visit, and no one can really understand.

Marco and Celia, and the magicians’ struggle they are destined to be locked into as they age, are ostensibly our protagonists, but I would argue that the main character of the novel is the circus itself, and their competition exists primarily both to give it life and to lend a sense of fatalism to the ending or transformation we know has to come, as surely as the first falling leaf means the rest have to die. Sometimes I wondered why they didn’t walk away, a question that does eventually receive an answer, but also doesn’t really matter. The characters in this novel are distant and feylike and sometimes as obtuse in their motivations as those very fey, and the only times they rise off the page are when the outside world touches them, or when they spin a wonder great enough that they manage to touch each other.

Marco in particular embodies that dichotomy. With an abandoned paramour, he’s so cold and far away he might as well be made of stone, and even with a mentor figure he seems callous and disconnected, with only the most absent-minded regard for the man’s humanity and his own impact upon it. He’d be easy to dislike if he didn’t transform at the mere presence of Celia, if the chemistry between the two of them weren’t so intense that they are both elevated by it. Even Celia, who is more charitably depicted, especially in her friendship with a clockmaker who builds a devoted following sharing their love of the circus, seems to gain more presence on the page in everything to do with Marco, even simply in her playful collaborations with him from afar. It is definitely not a romance, but it is quite a good love story.

Sometimes the behaviour of everyone, but especially the female characters who wander around unchaperoned and unconcerned, seems anachronistic, but Le Cirque des Rêves and everyone who touches it seem disconnected from time and place, occupants of a fragile bubble that liberates them even as it seems ever on the verge of popping. For some of them, it does; like most beautiful things, The Night Circus is often delicately sad.

Much of its beauty lies in the prose. I’m fairly certain that if Morgenstern were to describe the grass growing, I would read it. If the human characters are ephemeral, the circus leaps off the page in such vibrant fullness of life that it’s one of the few books to make me wish I could paint, so I had somewhere for the images to go. I’m reminded at least a little of the writing of Patricia McKillip, whom I also consider a master of rich prose and dreamlike fantasy. I really enjoy the clockwork motif that runs through the story and contrasts with its feeling of timelessness.

After much hopping back and forth between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the plot arrives at a conclusion that is adequate but slightly forced, and largely unremarkable, having never really been the point anyway. I did feel like the punches were pulled slightly, like it would have been more authentic to let go of certain characters, to give their last choice harsher consequences. But if I’m honest, I also didn’t care all that much, as I never really saw the whole concept of the magicians’ duel as more than a framing device.

I think if you like your novels to be story-driven above all else, this one is unlikely to grip you, and it may not capture the crowd looking for a character piece either. It’s full of dreamlike gaps in logic, and character consistency is knowingly sacrificed at the altar of whimsy. If, however, you are the type to be entranced by colour and light and poetic imagery, if you’re the type to merrily stare into space while you wander from dream to memory, if in short you are a navel gazer and a daydreamer like me, The Night Circus deserves a place on your shelf.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
1 vote Snumpus | Aug 10, 2016 |
Strike one was writing this in the present tense and choosing a style of prose that was reminiscent of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Strike two was the way Tsukiko was introduced.

And strike three was this:

He reads histories and mythologies and fairy tales, wondering why it seems that only girls are ever swept away from their mundane lives on farms by knights or princes or wolves. It strikes him as unfair to not have the same fanciful opportunity himself.

What?! What mythology was he reading? I'm not even offended or anything, this is just plain STUPID. Into the charity pile with you.
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
I didn't know quite what to expect with The Night Circus. I only knew that it would involve enchantment.
What I got was a feast for the senses. Though the story takes its time to unfold, and spans many years, it is full of magic, whimsy, a touch of darkness, and a crew of unique characters. The imagery Erin Morgenstern created is phenomenally vivid. I could see, hear, taste, and smell all that was described within the pages.
One thing I will say against it, is that I was led to believe this was a romance.
It is not a romance. It has a romance. The Night Circus is about the circus itself, the way it lives and breathes and touches the lives of those within and those who visit and love the circus more than anything.

I loved that every now and then there would be a page in which the reader was a visitor of the circus.

The Night Circus is not for those who like fast paced, who like things to happen right away. It's for dreamers, those who like to feast on every word, those who like to be carried away. ( )
  imagiphantaria | Aug 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 857 (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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A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
--Oscar Wilde, 1888
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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:51 -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)

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