books, review

Buddy Read – Book Review: The Night Circus


I buddy read this book with the ever amazing Icebreaker694

Original Release Date:

September 13th 2011

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017



My Star Rating:

4.5 stars

Official Summary:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.

Discussion Questions/Thoughts:

Icebreaker’s Questions:

1)  What food at the circus would you try first?

Icebreaker: I’d love to try those “cinnamon things”. While I was reading the story, I thought they were churros. They don’t disclose if they are, but I’d still eat them if they’re as good as Widget says they are.

RiverMoose: Oh thats a hard one. Probably the “cinnamon things” as they are called – which in my mind were cinnamon buns. I love them, and I bet the circus has the best ones.

2) Which character do you think grew the most?

Icebreaker:  Isobel. I don’t want to reveal too much, but she changes her views on a matter and becomes satisfied after finally trying to move on. At first she struggles knowing the truth, but later she seems to have accepted everything.

RiverMoose: Well I don’t think the Murray twins count… So I’ll say Isobel, she went through a lot of character growth throughout the novel – though I don’t want to say too much on it for those who haven’t read it.

3) If you could rewrite this book, what would you change?

Icebreaker:  I wouldn’t really change anything. I actually enjoyed the slower pace of The Night Circus, the characters, and the style of writing. It’s a lot better than anything I would write, that’s for certain.

RiverMoose: I’d lengthen the ending. It felt kind of abrupt and too “and now everything is perfect because I wanted it to be” instead of actual resolution being worked towards. But wouldn’t really change anything else. It wasn’t even that I disliked the ending – it just felt too fast.

My Questions:

1) Which point of view was your favorite to read from?

Icebreaker: Bailey’s! It took some time for me to really appreciate his chapters, but he ultimately ended up being my favorite POV to read from.

RiverMoose: Honestly? I really liked reading Bailey’s chapters because, even though for most of the book they felt extraneous and not grounded into the story like the rest, it ties in nicely and I liked the little glimpses of the future you get through his because his chapters ran ahead in the timeline of Celia’s and Marco’s. I also really liked Herr Theissen’s. I liked all the POVs though.

2) What did you think of the writing style/multi-narrative structure?

Icebreaker: Oh, I thought it was all really unique. I don’t see many multi-narrative books, and it was refreshing to learn that this story contained second and third person narratives. As for the writing style, I tend to enjoy lots of descriptions, and The Night Circus contained very detailed ones.

RiverMoose: I liked it. It feels floaty and insubstantial at times – very flowery and descriptive but you’re still at times unclear as to whats happening, but I thought it worked really well with the setting of the story, and I liked how the multi-POVs and stories we get to see make the whole thing come together and come to life because it makes it larger scale.

3) Which tent would you most want to visit at The Night Circus?

Icebreaker: I’d love to see the illusionist’s or the fortune teller’s tent! I’ve always loved watching magic acts when I was little and that has never changed. However I’ve never had my future read before, so I’d like to see what’s in store. (I’d also stick around the circus for Poppet and Widget’s kitten act, haha.)

RiverMoose: I’m the sort of person who gets utterly paralyzed by choice so I’d probably just try to methodically work my way through the circus. Knowing many of the tents though, I think I’d enjoy the labyrinth.

My Review: 

I don’t really know how to review this book without spoilers. So here is a mini-non-spoiler review before we get to the full review: It was great, it relies very heavily on pretty, flowery, writing if thats your thing, and has multiple POVs/stories/timepoints woven together very well. I really liked it.

(Spoilers ahead – just a warning)

(Spoilers ahead – just a warning)

 The Night Circus is a slow-paced, world building extravaganza of a book. The story is the circus itself, and the people in and around it. Celia and Marco are the main story – their competition being the focus the other narratives jump off from and the reason for the circuses creation, though we also see the POV of the others involved in the circuses creation (like the Burgesses), those who love the circus (like Herr Theissen), and others in the circus (the Murray twins, along with Bailey whose story runs a few years ahead of the main story before it alines, it was a bit confusing at first, but it made sense after a while).

Its a very slow build, grand scale kind of story, with large time jumps and beautiful descriptive language. The mystery of the circus extends to the reader, as your left just as in the dark as the characters often are.

Its a bit difficult to get into, but once you start its hard to stop. Its very different from other books I’m read, but I found I really enjoyed. You really get to know the characters.

The end annoyed me just a bit (hence the 4.5 stars rather than 5) because it felt a bit rushed. All the talk of making their own choices, and preserving the circus being draining, needing to make it independent after they are gone, only for it to fall on Bailey? It felt like a copout, and as a resolution in general, it felt a bit rushed. I didn’t dislike it, it just could have been a bit better. I did really like the epilogue and how it was all wrapped up for everyone, I do wish we got a better explanation of why Mr. A. H. and Prospero have their competitions the way they do though.

Favorite Quotes:

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“Stories have changed, my dear boy,” the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. “There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there in no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“The most difficult thing to read is time. Maybe because it changes so many things.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“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.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

18 thoughts on “Buddy Read – Book Review: The Night Circus”

  1. This books seems great! I really loved ur questions and answers to them😃
    I didn’t want to read your review because of the spoilers, but regardless, the review makes me check out the book 😊


          1. Omg! It’s my favourite book! I’ve heard a lot of people say that if you liked caraval you would like the night circus… we both need to check the books out! 😊


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