Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThere’s been quite a hype about this book and when I won it in a giveaway by Capricious Reader I was really excited. More so even when a beautiful hardback copy arrived on my doorstep. The book was such a pleasure to look at and to hold, it’s magic!

And what was inside, was very good too. Oh no: I’m going to add to the hype! This was a fantastic book. I loved it all the way through.

The Night Circus: What it is about

It’s the late 1800s. Prospero the Enchanter is an illusionist with a secret: his magic is real. When it turns out his daughter Celia has magic skills too, he sets up a challenge with an old rival of his: his rival may find and train whatever person he likes, to enter into a competition with Celia, and he is convinced that Celia will win.

Enter Marco, a boy from an orphanage, who is being trained by a mysterious man in a grey suit, to become Celia’s competitor. Neither he nor Celia understand the rules of the game, but they both become involved with the Night Circus, that opens at nightfall and closes at dawn.

The circus consists of a large number of tents, each with its own show. Celia has her illusionist show while Marco is only sometimes at the circus, he works in London, doing the accounts.

Celia and Marco fall in love but they are also competitors. How can they solve this insolvable problem?

The Night Circus: What I thought

I already said it: I loved this book. The time, Dickens’ era in which futures were told by mysterious ladies and the death were contacted via a medium. The setting, a circus so special that people could lose themselves in it.

I also enjoyed the parade of characters: two sets of twins, a mysterious man in a grey suit, a clock designer from Germany or a Japanese contortionist. They all had something intriguing about them. They were slightly cardboard, we could have learned a bit more about them, but it didn’t matter really, since all were pawns in the challenge of Celia and Marco.

The language in which the book is written is also appealing. Slightly old-fashioned but no tormentingly long sentences like you might find in Dickens or Wilkie Collins’ work.

The story is sometimes a little vague, not all is explained and that adds to the atmosphere of magic.

My main point of complaint comes from outside the book: because some people in my part of the blogging world had not finished the book or given it a so-so rating (you know who you are and actually, you have all the right in the world to stop reading or give a so-so rating but that’s beside the point), I was expecting to also want to give up after some time. But I kept liking the book, and liking it more and I wondered when this point would come that I wouldn’t like it anymore: It didn’t happen – I liked all of it. I should have skipped the negative reviews so I would have had a better reading experience.

As it was, I’d say this is one fine book that will be counted among my favorite books for this year. Stop reading the reviews, read the book!

Rating: 5/5

I got this book: from a giveaway by Capricious Reader

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 402

First published: 2011

Genre: fantasy (magic)

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

46 Responses to Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Tes says:

    Judith, I am absolutely interested in this book right away when I started reading your beginning. It does sound really amazing and I know I will be spending whole nights diving into the story as soon as I get my hand on the copy 🙂

  2. RFW says:

    One of my favorite books this year! I read it on my iPhone and then went to find it in print so I could savor the graphics that I missed.

    • Leeswammes says:

      RFW, I think people who read this as an ebook are probably missing out on some of the graphics. Nice that you bought the print version too. My book is so beautiful, I love it even for that.

  3. Susanscribes says:

    I’ve been interested in this book and glad to see you have a review for it. The author wrote her first draft of this book during the National Novel Writing month. She was rejected several times when trying to get this book published. I am glad to hear its worth the read. I think I will suggest it for our next book club review!

    • Leeswammes says:

      I’m doing NaNoWriMo, Susan but I don’t think my book is going to be quite that good. I think the idea of NaNo (quantity and ideas first, quality later) is a good one. Works for me.

  4. Uniflame says:

    As you know, I have it on hold at the library. But I suspect it can take a while before I can actually read it 😉

  5. Mystica says:

    A 5/5 – thats really wonderful.

  6. Susanscribes says:

    How do you find time to write AND read all these books! Success with your Nano novel. I, like you, find the concept so much fun. I love you blog also. You give great advice on books and reading. Thanks!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for your compliments, Susan! I don’t work so I can spend (some) daytime on my blog, reading I do mainly in the evening and I’m a fast reader. Glad you’re enjoying my blog. Good luck with Nano!

  7. It looks like you enjoyed this one as much as I did! I loved the language and the atmosphere, and it’ll definitely be on my Best of the Year list. 🙂

  8. I am sure I left a comment here yesterday, I even added the title to my wishlist after reading this review. 😦 Thanks for finally tempting meinto doing so!

  9. Suzanne says:

    *oops* I hope I didn’t negatively influence your reading experience. I’m glad you enjoyed it; I think it just might not have been my cup of tea.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I’m sure not everyone will love this book, Suzanne, although many people do.

      Well, I did expect to have a similar experience as you, Suzanne – so in the end, it was nice that mine was better. 🙂

  10. Tiina says:

    Glad you liked The Night Circus so much! I did, too. It will definitely be on my top 10 list of books read in 2011.

  11. Vasilly says:

    I really enjoyed reading The Night Circus! The setting and atmosphere was amazing.

  12. Marie says:

    I have this one on my to-be-read shelf. I haven’t been reading any reviews of this book, but when I saw the 5/5 on your post I couldn’t resist. Great review!

  13. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I bought it and have just been waiting for the space to read it but I think I will have to just shoehorn it in!

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  14. Trisha says:

    Yet another book I’ve been allowing to languish on my shelves unread. I really need to quit my job, win the lotto, and spend all my time reading.

    • Leeswammes says:

      That would be the best, Trisha. I myself am trying to read all books published in 2011 before the end of the year – partially for the Indie Lit challenge, although this book we can’t vote for (in our own genre).

  15. Nadine Nys says:

    I was already thinking about reading this, and after reading your great review, I am more determined than ever… Thanks, Judith!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Nadine, go for it! You will most likely love it. A friend of mine read the Dutch translation and loved it, but I can’t get around what a beautiful book my US hardback is. Not sure what you’d want to go for. Or maybe see if the library has it.

  16. My book club is reading this in January — can’t wait! Thanks for your review (especially for addressing the hype issue!).

  17. Pingback: Loved it all the way through « Night Circus Reviews

  18. Great review! Not sure I agree that the book itself was as wonderful as you though, but I did enjoy it. I just wish the plot itself were stronger.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for your comment, Seriestracker. I know people have issues with the plot (or lack of it) but I liked it fine. Glad you enjoyed the book anyway.

  19. THanks for the Review………..I’m definitely going to check this out….

  20. Pingback: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern « The Sleepless Reader

  21. susanbright says:

    I have been wondering about this book. I am glad that I read your comment about the graphics. instead of downloading the book I will be sure to read a real book this time around!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Susan, I can’t promise all editions of this book are so nice, but the hardback cover with the picture as you see here was lovely and for me, added to the pleasure of reading the book.

  22. Chinoiseries says:

    Seems like most people like it! I haven’t heard of anyone who abandoned it half-way. Of course, you’d have to like magical realism! I actually put off reading your review, because I wanted to read the book first 😉 But I have to agree with you! It was one magical rollercoaster ride 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Chinoiseries, somewhere in the world, there is a blogger that gave up on The Night Circus but I can’t remember who it is now.

      But most people love this book.

  23. Pingback: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern « JoV's Book Pyramid

  24. Pingback: Book Review: The Night Circus « ReviewsbyLola's Blog

  25. Stepping Out of the Page says:

    Great review, it sounds absolutely fantastic! I’m a little on-the-fence about reading it as I’ve read so many mixed views, but I think that I do need to pick it up and try it out myself. You have certainly sold it to me!

    New to your blog!
    Stephanie @ Stepping Out of the Page

  26. Pingback: Magic in Manhattan | The Misfortune Of Knowing

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