Surin's Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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Feb 21, 12

bookshelves: books-i-cant-stop-thinking-about, favorites-unclassified
Recommended for: anyone who likes Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, The Prestige, circuses, magic in the real world.
Read from December 11 to 21, 2011

Edit: Okay I've re-read The Night Circus recently and was absolutely blown away again. I know in my review I initially gave it a 4 stars because of the lack lustre ending, the poor world building and the illogical plot points but the journey The Night Circus took me on was so intriguing and beautiful that all this didn't really matter to me at all.

On a 2nd read, The Night Circus really comes to life as it shines like a beacon in the night sky. There's so much detail that I got to appreciate on my 2nd read, it was as if I had taken an entirely different journey all together. This is why I have decided to award this book a 5 stars despite all it's flaws.

Sometimes it is always about the journey and not the destination.


The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones

The Night Circus is going to be one of those books you'd either get sucked into and get totally engrossed or the kinda that gets you scratching your head and thinking 'ok can we please get on with the plot?'. Why? Cause the nonlinear storyline is definitely unique and will give an experience that you either care for or you don't. The narration jumps in between 3 timelines - the current, the not so distant future and also another that takes place in some unknown timeline. It also changes POVs throughout the timelines giving you a rich experience to see the story unfold from different character's eyes. There's even a '2nd person' POV (that's the one with the unknown timeline) that let's you experience the circus first hand!

You can almost think of it like little stories that are seemingly isolated in nature but held together by a single string. It's really almost like Pulp Fiction but think Victorian, oh and with Magic, oh and minus John Travolta and Uma Thurman. A more closer analogy would be to compare it to Great Expectations where you're not quite sure how everything fits together until the last couple of chapters.

At times, certain stories seem out of place because you're not quite sure how they fit into the bigger picture while some sections just flow seamlessly. Speaking of the bigger picture, as a reader you'd get a bit lost at times because you won't see the bigger picture till the 85% mark of the book. So this ends up making the plot excruciatingly slow (the duel mentioned in the synopsis is not a quick one but one that spans over many decades!). As you can see for some, this could be a frustrating experience.

So why on earth would you continue reading stories that don't seem to fit in place of a plot? The writing is really the answer (well it was for me). The writing of The Night Circus is richly imaginative with beautiful narration that just leaps off the page like rich poetry. Despite being written in 3rd person and even 2nd person, it is very introspective yet descriptive with an almost lyrical magical quality to it.

Everything in this tent is white. Nothing black, not even stripes visible on the walls. A shimmering, almost blinding white. There are trees and flowers and grass surrounding twisted pebble pathways, every leaf and petal perfectly white.

Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.


However if you strip away the beautiful narration and the nonlinear experience, the story itself is kinda drab and at times it doesn't make any sense (i.e. how you win the duel is so ambiguous, seriously what's stopping the magicians from working together to thy kingdom come so that nobody has to die?!). The plot is like the younger less tedious cousin of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell however I do think that the Jonathan Strange is better thought thru and the world building there is almost flawless. There's also the issue with character motivations, some character motivations didn't make any sense at all (why on earth would you do that was my constant question).

Surprisingly, the world building also doesn't hold up to tight scrutiny either. For example, if you were to ask me what sort of magic they do I couldn't tell you because the laws of magic in their world wasn't even explained properly. The nature of their duel too is also shrouded in mystery and the rules to win it even more so.

The more important question of them all is, does it all pay off in the end like it did in Pulp Fiction and even Great Expectations? Honestly? I don't think so. I thought the ending was kind of weak (almost a deus ex machina) with a lot of things not explained well or not even addressed at all! It's such a waste that all the elements didn't come together as nicely as it could which is why I had rated this book a 4 star instead of a 5. Then again I've been told that this book demands a re-reading and that it may change my perception of the ending. But for now, with just a one read through my view that the ending was lacklustre still stands.

Despite all its flaws, The Night Circus is a very unique and special book somehow weaving itself into my heart and never letting go. I definitely enjoyed the journey that The Night Circus has brought me along but was disappointed when I arrived at my destination. But you know, sometimes it really is about the journey and not about the destination after all.
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Reading Progress

12/11/2011 page 30
8.0% "Love the writing! Hurray for a book that gets period writing and speech patterns. It irks me whenever a book is set in the past but the language used and the speech patterns of the characters are far too modern (Infernal Devices by C. Clare comes to mind)."
12/11/2011 page 50
13.0% "The 2nd person POV narrations are really interesting. Hmmmm"
12/14/2011 page 387
100.0% "WHAT?! That's the ending? I really loved this book till I got to the 3/4 point and realised that nothing was going to be answered and all the answers I was hoping for were unexplained or unsatisfactory. Such a pity, this could easily have been a 5 star book for me :("

Comments (showing 1-8)




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message 8: by Liv (new) - added it

Liv Heller alright you've convinced me! >.<


Sierra Bamiro Yeah I figured I would need to reread the book when I got to the end.


message 6: by Fairy (new) - added it

Fairy Fairuz I was tempted to get this book just now!(plus it comes with 20% off haha).ok now you've convinced me, thanks!


Ciara Zabolotney I enjoyed your description of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time and want to re-read it at some point for all those little extras that I may have missed the first time. I also thought the ending was a little weak, but I enjoyed the story. I'm one of those people who likes stories with multiple timelines that don't fit together immediately and leave you thinking.


Deborah Valentine I did something I rarely do when I finish a book - I immediately re-read it, straight through. Enjoying even more the second time than the first!


message 3: by Sophia (new) - added it

Sophia I am going to read this book your review made me want to;););)


Joan Wonderful review! I just finished today and oh, how I will miss Le Cirque des Reves!


Farnaaz can u plz tell me why d charcters involved with d circus dnt age?n why Tara died?n why d Murray twins age?and what exactly happened to Celia and Marco?they were trapped but able to live with each other?and about Herr Thiesen...why and how did he die??


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