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The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,5521068329 (4.07)1 / 1034
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.
  1. 7210
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (historycycles, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Magical rivalries are at the heart of these unconventional Fantasy novels, which play out over decades and against elaborate, atmospheric 19th-century backdrops. Their initially relaxed pacing gains momentum as the various narrative threads dramatically converge.… (more)
  2. 321
    Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (JGKC)
  3. 220
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (shelfoflisa, 47degreesnorth)
    shelfoflisa: Another tale of duelling victorian magicians
  4. 3921
    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Oryan685)
  5. 172
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Larkken)
    Larkken: Each detail a dreamlike world overlapping but hidden from the real world to most people.
  6. 2111
    The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (LDVoorberg)
    LDVoorberg: Fantasy with enough reality to make it seem plausible
  7. 157
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Anonymous user)
  8. 71
    Little, Big by John Crowley (ktbarnes)
    ktbarnes: Both have magical realism, with a fairytale feel
  9. 50
    Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip (amysisson)
    amysisson: Both are fantasy about magic and performance, with lovely writing.
  10. 62
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (bluenotebookonline)
  11. 30
    The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman (amysisson)
    amysisson: Both are about the magic of performance, and have colorful performer characters, although one is science fiction and the other is fantasy.
  12. 30
    Touch by Alexi Zentner (JessiAdams)
    JessiAdams: Both books have a similiar combination of realism and fantasy with similiar imagery. Wish I could describe it better, but I can't. Both of these books just FEEL the same.
  13. 64
    Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (TomWaitsTables)
  14. 20
    Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster (tandah)
  15. 10
    The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Everyone loves a fantastical circus.
  16. 21
    Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Beautiful type of fairy tale
  17. 21
    Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (tralliott)
  18. 10
    When the Moon Was Ours: A Novel by Anna-Marie McLemore (kgriffith)
    kgriffith: Magical realism, beautiful prose, setting as a character/catalyst
  19. 10
    Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (mzonderm)
  20. 00
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Kata18)
    Kata18: Both books feel a little like a dream with a touch of magic that's not quite explained.

(see all 25 recommendations)

Circus (2)

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English (1,050)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  Swedish (1)  Chinese (1)  Finnish (1)  Turkish (1)  Greek (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (1,064)
Showing 1-5 of 1050 (next | show all)
While not the most surprising book ever, the details are imaginative and engrossing. ( )
  mr_thrym | Aug 1, 2020 |
This book does very well with painting a vivid picture of every movement, person, or magical thing within the circus. However, this type of story-telling did not mesh well with me. This just felt like a movie script with bits of dialogue. I thought the bite-sized chapters were nice, but it took me forever to finish this book. The pacing was tortuously-slow, and I did not have the motivation to plow through it. It’s like I never got ahead with this book. I would read 20 pages straight and be no closer to the end.

Now, somehow, the last 100 or so pages caught my interest. No more riddles and mysteriousness about the rules of the game and the relationship between Celia and Marco finally makes progress. Basically, all the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together, and the end is fitting. It almost made me want to raise the rating, but I have to acknowledge how much I disliked the beginning and middle parts. Listen, make this a movie or a Netflix series, and I’m there!

To end this on a positive note, my lil’ romantic heart enjoyed the descriptions of Marco and Celia’s longing for each other. Their meaningful gazes, brushes of skin contact, unspoken words, and dramatic displays of love were all so cute to me! They’re such star-crossed lovers.

[rating purely from personal enjoyment] 2.5 stars ( )
  DestDest | Jul 29, 2020 |
..." I have to admit, I was a little concerned I would be let down after the first few pages. Once I settled into the slower, dream like rhythm of the book and stopped resisting, stopped wanting a fix for a fast paced here and now type, I realized I held a prime example of what it takes to write well.
Morgenstern creates a dream like world and detailed sensory experiences that draw the reader in, and it is smart. But it is so much more. It holds the best of the worlds of intellectual genius, socialite finesse, and, further, it displays the soul of art. It is a complete nearly tangible experience that forces you to relax into it and be amazed. But it also incorporates the depths of humanity at its ugliest and at its purest, most innocent.

The characters become so real, so intimately described from their reactions to the environment and each other, to the way they dress. Clothing in her book summarize the characters. A grey man, always quietly observing and hard to remember, a child under unfair haggard circumstances like the clothing she wears out grows into a beautiful, mystical woman like the clothing which she learns to create for herself later; these characters, and every other in the book, are intricately painted along with the world they exist in.

Each literary brush stroke is carefully chosen, thoughtfully considered, and vital to the readers’ experience. Morgenstern masters literary devices, creative expression, psychological depth, and visual artistry in pages of characters typed out which would, unless settled in this exact sequence, render different meaning or be meaningless all together...."

See full post here: http://catherinemilos.com/2015/09/dont-you-have-to-be-smart-to-write/ ( )
  CatherineMilos | Jul 11, 2020 |
The Night Circus involves two young magician/wizards, Celia and Marcos. Their teachers have agreed to make the young wizards compete against each other as a test of their teachers abilities. The arena of their competition is the The Cirque du Reves (The Circus of Dreams). The circus is supposedly planned by an Anglo-Indian impresario but is actually created by the magic of the young wizards.

Due to its magical nature the circus is immensely popular with the public. But the magic starts to have consequences for the circus members and the young magicians themselves. They become aware of each other and fall in love. But their teachers will not allow them to end the competition.

The problem was with the plotting. Many books, like this one, introduce an initial problem and increase the tension in the reader until the resolution at the end of the work. But here, since everything is magic, which by its very nature is unreal it was difficult to feel any sense of tension, since it wasn’t clear what was or was not possible. Several of the characters had magical abilities but it was not clear what they were or what each of them could do. One interesting device the author did use was very short chapters each focusing on different characters and which were not always in temporal order.

I would recommend the book. The author writes well and the book was very interesting to begin with and the author has some beautiful descriptions of the circus and its magic. After a while, though, the lack of tension did just want to make me “get to the end”. ( )
  amareshjoshi | Jul 10, 2020 |
This book has been on my TBR for so long! I felt like everyone I knew, either in real life or the book blog world, had read and loved this book and I was just way late to the party.

Here is the summary from the Kobo store:

In this mesmerizing debut, a competition between two magicians becomes a star-crossed love story. The circus arrives at night, without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within nocturnal black and white striped tents awaits a unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stand awestruck as a tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and gaze in wonderment at an illusionist performing impossible feats of magic. Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is underway – a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in “a game,” in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

So I’ve read the book. I’ve read glowing reviews and some negative ones, and find myself somewhere in the middle. I certainly didn’t love it, but I did like certain things about the book.

The Cirque des Reves is a traveling circus that appears in towns all over the world without warning, full of fantastical things to see and do, including performing acrobats, a fortune teller, a labrynth, a contortionist, and more. The main plot revolves around two older magicians, Hector and Alexander, and their proteges, Celia (Hector’s daughter) and Marco, whom they have trained as magicians from childhood for a duel of sorts. Of course, when Celia and Marco meet and eventually fall in love, it complicates things…

First, let me mention the things I liked. I really liked the atmosphere the author created. It was all described very vividly and I felt that I could easily picture everything. That helped me (initially) to get lost in the world Morgenstern created. The circus itself was fascinating to read about, with all of the different tents and performances. There was some truly wonderful, imaginitive stuff there, and I really did love reading those passages. Some of the minor characters, such as the contortionist Tsukiko and the clockmaker Friedrick Thiessen, were very interesting and wound up becoming more involved in the story’s events than I anticipated.

I also liked the idea of this competition between Marco and Celia (as well as the previous competitions, which were briefly mentioned throughout, usually in passing by Hector or Alexander). It made me feel that the events in this book were taking place on a very grand scale.

Time to address the things that frustrated me. I felt that the author withheld a lot of information from the reader. At first, I assumed that all would be revealed at some point in the novel, but I never felt that I really learned that much about the characters themselves or the competition between Celia and Marco. I viewed this competition as the impetus for the events of the entire book – the creation of the circus itself, really – and yet I never felt like I really knew anything about it and that definitely frustrated me. At times, Celia and Marco would ask questions about the competition, such as how a winner would be determined, how and when it would end, etc., and I eagerly read on, wanting the answers to those questions myself. Unfortunately, Celia and Marco (and the reader) were basically told that those answers were not important, or that they would find out later at some unspecified time. I took that to mean that I really would find out those answers at some point in the book, but never really felt like I got that, in the end.

I also never felt like I connected to Marco or Celia, and lack of connection to a character in a book I’m reading is usually a big issue for me. I was intrigued by their abilities, but never really felt that they were fully developed characters. They also somehow weren’t as interesting to me as, say, Tsukiko. I wondered quite often how Marco and Celia really felt about their abilities and the competition itself, and also wondered why they put up with the treatment they received while they were younger from Alexander and Hector (e.g. Marco was isolated for years, with no human interaction except for lessons with Alexander). I was often frustrated with their acceptance of the explanations (or lack thereof) that they received from their teachers.

This whole idea of a deadly competition that they were forced to participate in, but without any real explanation of the rules, just fell flat for me in the end. Since I never felt connected to the characters, I was not very invested in the the competition and the outcome. I couldn’t imagine that the author would kill off either Celia or Marco, so when the ending came, it felt much less exciting or emotional than I think it was meant to be. In all honesty, I was somewhat confused by the ending, and had to reread certain passages to try and make sense of what had happened.

I truly did like many things about this book. Overall, though, I came away feeling that it was more style than substance. However, if this book appeals to you, I still recommend it, because Morgenstern’s writing really did create a vivid world for me that I liked reading about, even if I couldn’t quite connect with the characters inhabiting that world. (From http://pingwings.ca) ( )
  kimmypingwing | Jul 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 1050 (next | show all)
Morgenstern’s wonderful novel is made all the more enchanting by top-notch narration from the incomparable Jim Dale.
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 editionscalculated
Dale, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fontana, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forrester, KateCover artistsecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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