Book Review: The Night Circus


Photo credit: Cover of Erin Morgenstern’s ‘The Night Circus’

“Everything I have done, every change I have made to that circus, every impossible feat and astounding sight, I have done for her.”

Two promising young magical prodigies are thrown into a timeless duel sparked by an old rivalry between the new and ancient schools of magic. Their mentors spend years training them for the day to come where they will face each other. A duel so grand needs a venue in which such exhibitions will be capable of being displayed, so eventually one is created. “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.”

This is no ordinary circus, but instead an absolute spectacle that mesmerizes all onlookers to where they are drawn inside. While this circus is unusually large with its endless passages, on the larger scale it is quite small and intimate once you get accustomed to it. Some are so fascinated with the circus that they follow the circus as it travels around the world and form a society called the “rêveurs,” or in English, the dreamers. As the champions spend more time together and interact with the environment more they start to form somewhat of an intimate relationship until a deep passionate love is formed, one that endlessly complicates the game. Unfortunately, in this story not even love can break the spell that binds them to this battle. There can only be one winner.

“I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.’ ‘But you built me dreams instead.”

The following are some important aspects of the book that are worth considering:

Filled with Imagery

  • Morgenstern is so incredibly descriptive of the images she wants to paint. It was very easy to picture each and every scene. The only downside is that at times I thought that it was so descriptive that it took away from the plotline. 

Converging Timeline

  • The timeline of The Night Circus is split up into a few different sections. Many different story lines are simultaneously occurring (some during different time periods) to eventually come together at the very end. This may be disorienting for some readers when they try to picture the timeline. Time also passes differently for those inside of the circus which can confuse readers even more if they are struggling to understand the timeline. 

It’s a love story

  • The love story of the protagonists was the center of attention. Their interactions both in-person and through complementing each other’s magical actions on the circus were progressively more and more intimate as the story progressed. The ways in which they used their magic to enhance the other’s creations was a very creative way to bring the characters together. 

“I have tried to let you go and I cannot. I cannot stop thinking of you. I cannot stop dreaming about you.”

With its imaginative imagery and romantic nature, The Night Circus transports all who read it into the magical environment of an incredibly passionate duel. As one gets to know each champion, they develop empathy for them both and wish that fate could be different. You are unable to stop reading as you are transported into the circus and start finding yourself becoming a rêveur. This book is an immersive experience, and I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy experimenting with reality.