Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is arguably one of the most popular and well-loved stories in the book community so truthfully, I was slightly intimidated to pick it up. ✨ After diving headfirst into the story, I can definitely understand the hype though I wouldn’t say I love it as much as everyone else.

Filled with lyrical narrative and an imaginative plotline, The Night Circus whisps you away to the Circus of Dreams where love, magic, and mystery are all intertwined. 🎪

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

PUBLISHED BY Doubleday (Penguin Random House) on September 13th 2011

GENRE: Fantasy

PAGES: 391


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

The story starts with a challenge negotiated between two magicians though the terms and details of the challenge itself are unclear. 🌟 All that is known is that Celia, one magician’s daughter, is one contestant and another has not yet been chosen. We follow the second magician towards an orphanage where Marco is selected from the boys, and instantaneously, his training begins. 

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”

Many people love The Night Circus for its writing, and I can completely understand why they are moved by it. Erin Morgenstern paints stories with words from the magical atmosphere of circus festivities to moments of inquisitive discovery with the side characters. 🎨

However, I felt that the writing was too flowery and there was too much narrative. This is something that comes down to personal preference, but at multiple points in the story, I was waiting for the author to stop describing and to start moving the story along.

“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

It felt as if there were rarely any interactions between the characters, specifically the two main love interests, because they had such few moments for conversation. Part of me kept hoping for more dialogue rather than only descriptions.

Still, I was massively impressed with the plotline, and I thought the execution of the competition was one of a kind. I loved seeing how Celia and Marco kept anticipating and reacting to each other’s actions and grand gestures in the circus–it’s almost as if we were reading about a game of chess unfolding. ♟

“To be rather than to seem.”

It’s interesting to watch the side characters eventually be incorporated into the overall plot, and throughout the story, I kept wondering what the exact competition was since it’s unclear in the beginning. 

This is a story unlike any other, and I can understand why it’s well-adored. It’s such a popular book that I would definitely recommend reading it to experience the prose for yourself. 💖

The circus arrives without warning.

Have you read The Night Circus?

What were your thoughts?

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34 thoughts on “Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Ooh I’m the first one! (I’m silly like that 😉 ) I’ve been looking forward to your review ever since you told me you scheduled it! ❤ I totally agree with how I was wishing for more dialogue because I think the author could really dig deep into the chemistry between Marco and Celia and make it even more ~magical~. I was also pretty confused about the contest (and still am now!) At the end, I was left with the idea that it's about endurance and how long you can just keep making moves. What was your understanding about the game?


    1. Aww I’m so happy you’re excited for it!! I feel the same way too. I lovveeed their chemistry together, but I wish we got to see them interact more?? because most of their interactions was recorded from their thoughts! I think after finishing the book, I still don’t have a clear understanding of the game but I just am left with these feelings/messages of hope, love, and childlike wonder/belief in magic if that makes sense?? especially also themes of destiny and whether we control our own fate. 😅


      1. ooh childlike wonder in magic is a good one! I think I felt that way too with all atmosphere and whimsical magical creations… and haha I wish I could visit the Night Circus!! I wish it would pop up in my neighborhood one day! 😂


    1. Ahh I know just how you feel 🙈 I was super scared that I wouldn’t like it, but I can definitely see why it’s so well-loved!! Please let me know if you ever give it a read 😍


    1. Yes!! It’s so eloquent and descriptive so I thought the writing was super pretty 😍 Thank you so much for reading my review!!


    1. I felt the same way for a long time!! but it was available at my library so I decided to give it a read 😍 Let me know your thoughts if you decide to give it a read!!


  2. The Night Circus is one of my favorites ❤ It IS very descriptive and that is part of the reason why I love it so much, but I know that kind of writing not for everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed it though! Tsukiko is one of my favorite characters 😀


    1. Aww I can understand why it’s so well loved for sure!! The writing was just so pretty 😍 I would still really want to read her other works!


    1. Awww thank you!! I definitely understand the hype for it, but it was definitely such a wonderful read and super magical 🥰 I can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you do!!


  3. This is a beautiful review, Tiffany! ❤ I love this book so much, but it took me two reads to appreciate it fully. I think in the first read I was too distracted by the writing- I so agree with it being too flowery and during my first read, it distract me too much from understanding what's going on. On the second read though, I feel like I can cut to the noise and appreciate the characters and plot even more ❤


    1. Aww thank you!! I think I would love it so much more if I gave it a second read because of the writing and seeing how everything pieces together. 💖


  4. I honestly don’t remember The Night Circus too much, I just remember that I thought the writing was beautiful but that the story moved a little bit slow. I did absolutely *adore* Erin Morgenstern’s other book, The Starless Sea. And because I liked it so much, I’ve been considering rereading The Night Circus some time soon. Great review Tiffany!! 💕💕


    1. Ooo that’s how I feel like!! The writing was definitely super beautiful, but the story took so long to get through. I have been super wanting to read STARLESS SEA though so it makes me super excited to pick it up since you liked it!! 😍


  5. Loved reading your thoughts on this! I read this last year sometime between September-November not sure haha, and I gave it 4 stars initially but then reduced this to 3.5 stars. Like you said the descriptive writing is so beautiful but also I found that it was kind of confusing to follow the plot because of this? And I agree – I wanted some more dialogue!!


    1. Aww thank you, Emme!! I had a lot of fun writing my review. I COMPLETELY agree with what you said. It’s such a beautiful book, but I got super lost at times with what was happening because of how descriptive the writing is?? Thank you for reading my review! 😍


  6. Omg you finally read the Night Circus! I’m so happy you loved it. I read it a long time ago and I remember loving it but I also absolutely agree about the flowery language and description. I had struggled quite a lot with it. Hopefully, The Starless Sea won’t have that problem.


    1. Yes!! I was low-key scared to but I’m really glad that I ended up giving it a read 😍 I’m glad that I’m not alone with the flowery writing. It’s definitely super beautiful, but it might be a reader preference! and yes!! I hope we both love Starless Sea so much more 💖


    1. Thank you!! Even though it was super flowery, I still loved the story a lot. I’m excited to read her other book!!


  7. Beautiful review, and I am glad you enjoyed this one even if not as much as you hoped! I read this a few years ago and remember nothing about it? Which is weird because it’s the kind of story I would expect to stick with me? I don’t even know but I am going to have to re-read it lmao


    1. RIGHT?! Okay, I agree I thought it was super flowery and beautiful, but I’m having such a hard time pinpointing certain scenes too. I think it’s definitely a readers’ preference too.


  8. Aaaahhh The Night Circus!! One of my college faves! This book has such a special place in my heart, truly.


  9. Aaaah The Night Circus!! One of my college faves! This will always have a special place in my heart, truly.

    Btw if you liked this look out for Where Dreams Descend! It’s the exact same vibe!


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