Book review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“Opens at Nightfall; Closes at Dawn.” The Le Cirque des Rêves is a circus unlike any other, just as this magical debut novel is equally unique. At the center of The Night Circus spectacle are two specially gifted young magicians, Celia and Marco, pitted against each other in professional competition, drawn towards one another in love. Erin Morgenstern’s literary fantasy has already drawn raves for its captivating evocativeness: “A world of almost unbearable beauty…. A love story on a grand scale: it creates, it destroys, it ultimately transcends.” “A novel so magical that there is no escaping its spell… If you choose to read just one novel this year, this is it.” (From Goodreads.Com)
Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, comes with some pretty huge claims. Promising to be the publishing sensation of the year and recommended by the likes of Audrey Niffenegger it has a lot to live up to. Personally, having now read the book, I think the hype is more than justified and The Night Circus now sits firmly on my favourite books ever shelf and is one I know I will want to read again and again.
The Night Circus tells the story of two magicians with different schools of thought on the learning of magic. One believes it’s innate, only those born magical can be truly great while the other believes it can be learned with the right training. One uses cruel and harsh techniques to get the best from their student and focuses mainly on the practical while the other adopts an isolating and studious regime.  Each sure that theirs is the best way; they pit students against each other in a battle to the end.
If you’re expecting an action packed book full of magic and action you’ll only be half right. This book is certainly magical; from the very first page it exudes magic and Morgenstern’s exquisite writing instantly enchanted me. I felt I’d been sucked in to this surreal, dreamlike world and enjoyed every single moment of it. This book isn’t fast paced at all, it’s a slow, floating journey and I savoured it, wanting to make it last as long as I possibly could. There’s no action packed duels either, the magic is subtle yet extraordinarily grand and beautiful. 
The book is told by several different viewpoints spanning several decades. What’s fascinating is that these viewpoints don’t run linear to each other, so we flit backwards and forwards between years and yet I was never confused at all. This approach made the book all the more magical and you could sense you were heading to a climatic meeting point in time.
I loved the different characters within the book, especially Celia and Marco themselves, however it’s the actual circus itself that takes the lead role in this book. The depth of Erin Morgenstern’s imagination is astounding and she describes it in such rich and vivid detail.  I could smell the caramel apples she talked about, imagine with astounding clarity the scenes of wonder created and feel the magic and intrigue crackling through my body as I absorbed this book. It was utterly captivating throughout and each time I left I felt I was awakening from a strange and beautiful dream.

The Night Circus is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read and I was completely blown away by it. If you don’t like magic realism at all and find it difficult to suspend any belief then this probably isn’t the book for you. This is a book not to question, but to let yourself be carried away on a magical, surreal journey. It’s stunning, romantic, magical and beautifully written and a remarkable debut. I can’t imagine what Erin Morgenstern will come up with next. 

Published September 2011 by Harvill Secker
Proof copy recieved from the Amazon Vine program. 

2 thoughts on “Book review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Lovely review! I've been hearing so many good things about this one, and even though I kinda prefer to stay grounded in the real world with my reading, I might have to give this one a try since you loved it so much! I was just reading that the movie rights have been optioned too!

    p.s Hope you had a lovely holiday! x


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