rco are protégés of magicians capable of wonderful feats. Both have been raised with the knowledge that one day they will face an opponent in a competition testing their skills in every way. That competition takes the form of a circus that opens only at night, and that contains a dazzling array of tents and performances; from ice gardens to a cloud maze and a wishing tree. The circus is hugely popular with the public, who attend in droves, not quite understanding that magic is the basis of everything around them. But as the years pass, the performers and circus workers start to notice something unusual, and the pressure of maintaining such a complex competition arena starts to tell on Celia and Marco. Matters are further complicated when their feelings for each other start to intrude on their desire to win.
I've owned The Night Circus ever since it came out in hardback, because I am a sucker for hype. I tend to buy hyped books when they are hyped (and this one is a beautiful hardback) but then wait a few years to read them, when I can approach the book with a clear head. Despite having read many glowing reviews of The Night Circus in the past, I tried to approach it as I would any other novel.
And The Night Circus is a very good book. I wouldn't say it's as strong as it has been made out to be, but it's distinctive and unique. Morgenstern's writing is extremely visual and the circus just came to life in my imagination, with little effort on my part. I adored the style of the circus, and the way all of the little details, like the clock and the red scarves, were described fully. I longed to visit the circus and see the tents for myself. The magical atmosphere matched the historical setting perfectly, and I can not fault Morgenstern's 'vision' for the novel at all.
As well as this, the plot was interesting and the competition element kept things moving along at a brisk pace; the story never dragged. Celia and Marco were both well developed characters and although their romance was a little intense and overdone at times, it fit with the magical elements of the story. The secondary characters were perhaps more interesting than the main ones, especially Celia's father and the twins, Poppet and Widget. All the characters were described in the same visual way as the circus itself, and this made them really come to life.
Actually, there's not much I didn't like about the The Night Circus. I think the only reason I didn't love it in a 5-out-of-5 star way is that I couldn't help but compare it to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Both are stories of magic rooted in nineteenth century England, and The Night Circus just falls a bit flat by comparison. It doesn't have the depth or mythology of Jonathan Strange, and comes across as more style over substance. It's still an excellent book and one I would highly recommend, it's just not quite up there with my absolute favourites.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2011
Score: 4 out of 5
I loved The Night Circus, but I also loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. They're both books that I got completely caught up in... I wish more books were like these.ReplyDelete
Oh me too, I'm always on the look out for books like these.Delete
Oh, Lord, if I'd compared Night Circus to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, that would have sunk Night Circus's ship completely. JS&MN is one of my favorite fantasy books ever (when will Susanna Clarke make another!!), and Night Circus couldn't compare.ReplyDelete
As it is, I looooved the setting and could take or leave the plot. The movie is interesting to me primarily because I want to see how they do all the scenes in the circus.
JS&MN is one of my favourite books, ever. Have you read The Ladies of Grace Adeiu?Delete
I'm looking forward to the movie, I hope it will be as visually stunning as I imagined the book to be.
I have to admit that this didn't bowl me over. I couldn't get away from the fact that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was amazing! If I had read this before that, maybe my review wouldve been totally different!ReplyDelete
Jonathan Strange is just an amazing book, I'm glad other people loved it as much as I did.Delete
I loved this book, but since you say you loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell even more, I'm going to wishlist that one. I find that I enjoy books about magic a lot.ReplyDelete
Jonathan Strange is a special book, I hope you love it as much as I did.Delete
I came to this book at the right time and it totally clicked with me. And if you think of this book's characters as being characters in a fable and not fully developed beyond the roles they play, I think it works even bette.r You nailed it when you said this is a visual book. I still dream of many of the various tents from the Night Circus and I can't wait to see how they're rendered for film.ReplyDelete
I agree about the characters being fable-like, as the whole book has that feel. The twins especially would fit with that. I'm excited for the film too, I just hope they get it right!Delete
Have still not read it - on my list. Thanks for the review.ReplyDelete
Hope you enjoy it!Delete
I loved this book when I read it, and I thought that the setting and the atmosphere were what made it. I'm really looking forward to the film.ReplyDelete
The film could be amazing - I just hope it is done right....Delete
I loved The Night Circus. It felt a bit like virtual reality, everything was so vivid and intense.ReplyDelete
Virtual reality is the perfect way to describe it - as you said, everything was so vivid.Delete
Hype is so hard to resist! The idea behind this novel sounds really interesting and different to anything I've read before. I'm definitely intrigued by it :)ReplyDelete
It was an original book, and I'm glad I finally read it.Delete
I haven't read this book yet, but it's still interesting to hear your thoughts and comparison to the Jonathan Strange. I'm still intrigued too and may try to read it this year.Thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
Have you read Jonathan Strange? I just love that book.Delete
You reminded me of that 19th century costume (that I learned of in The Age of Innocence) where the ladies buy their Paris dresses but then wait a couple of years before wearing them, so that they're not too racy :)ReplyDelete
Glad the habit has survived into the 21st century, if in a slightly different form :PDelete
I was looking forward to you sharing your thoughts on The Night Circus - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hadn't read anything like The Night Circus when I delved in to it which is probably why I hold in it such high esteem. I will definitely be looking in to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell after your comparison.ReplyDelete
Bits & Bobs
It was a really magical reading experience, and the book certainly will have a special place on my shelf. I hope you get a chance to read Jonathan Strange, I think you'll love it if you loved Night Circus.Delete
Glad you finally read and liked The Night Circus!! This book lived up to the hype for me. I read it right when it first came out and loved every single stupid word. Then I fangirled over Erin when my book club went to a signing.ReplyDelete
It must have been exciting to read it in the midst of all the hype, and definitely exciting to meet the author.Delete
I've been meaning to read this one forever! It's been recommended to me so often, I'm a bit afraid it won't live up. Glad you hear you still enjoyed it though, even if it wasn't a 5 star read for you :)ReplyDelete
I had been meaning to read it forever too, so I'm glad I finally did :)Delete
Style over substance is the perfect way to describe this book. It is very visually compelling, but it fell a bit flat for me overall. I think it will make an amazing film, however.ReplyDelete
The film has the potential to be amazing, but could be truly awful if it's done wrong. I hope they get it right...Delete
I just may not be a visual person (which is a horrifying thing for a pathologist to say) but I was underwhelmed by this book. It could well be because I read it at the height of the hype. It was supposed to be the best book ever and I just didn't care about anything the characters did. It was all very pretty but nothing was believable to me and I was left with the impression of "and why am I reading this?"ReplyDelete