Nemo (the Moonlight Library)'s Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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Gah! What a supremely boring book.

The prose is near perfect, and the descriptions are the best I’ve ever read. But good writing and beautiful descriptions does not a good book make!

This book was boring. I was promised a deadly duel to the death between two star-crossed magic-making lovers, trained since childhood to… destroy each other, perhaps. Instead I was delivered a slow-burn of somewhat related skits interspersed with pretty good second-person descriptions of the most wondrous circus ever imagined. The rivals didn’t even know who each other was until halfway through the book! And the so called ‘game’? What exactly was the point? To prove someone gifted with magic was better at it than someone who learned it through books (or vice versa)? Each ‘move’ was supposed to be an additional tent in the circus? How did that prove anything? And the winner is the person who survives? So, what, exactly, does that mean – that the person who perishes somehow self-combusted from using magic?

And just like… what? What was so ‘mysterious’ about everything? You can’t just dance around in circles, waving your arms and going ‘woooooo, I’m so spooky and mysterious!’ You need to actually give me some answers. It wasn’t mysterious at all, it was just vague!

You know when you watch magic tricks and you think OMG THAT IS SO AMAZING HOW DID HE PULL THE RABBIT OUT OF THAT HAT? Or OMG HE IS REALLY SAWING THAT CHICK IN HALF!
And then you learn there’s a secret compartment in the hat hiding the rabbit, or that the chick is really squished up into one half of the box, and the trick is forever ruined?

That was like this book. Except without the magic tricks.

“But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway
Behind the scenes? No, it’s in front of EVERYONE. And a fierce competition? Dude, this ‘competition’ makes slug fights look interesting.

a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.
1) I don’t see any duels!
2) EXPRESSELY FOR WHAT PURPOSE? Just because you never answer this question doesn’t make it mysterious!

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.
Celia: La la la, I think I’ll create a pretty tent.
Marco: (two years later) Oh yes, here’s another tent that has absolutely nothing to do with anything, and it’s certainly not a new move in this ‘game’ (because how does that make sense?)

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.
Headfirst? Dude knows who his rival is for years before approaching her. Love from afar is not headfirst. And even if he was in love with her for so long, love without evidence is stalking.

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.
The game must play out? What game? Literally no one else is involved in the ‘game’. It doesn’t affect the patrons, and it only weirdly affects the other performers because someone else stuck their nose somewhere it wasn’t wanted!

The best part about this book was the descriptions. But even they were presented peeking through fingers over eyes as if to say, ‘If I look too closely, I’ll spoil the MAGIC.’

Also, I found Bailey and Poppet’s romance more interesting than Marco and Celia’s! The romance is definitely NOT and angle to promote in this book.

That being said, I freaking loved reading about all of Celia’s magic. Her colour-changing gown? How did no one realise that was real magic? I want one of those!

This book was not for me, even though I believed BASED ON THE BLURB that it was. My problem was not with the pacing, because I could have read those gorgeous descriptive passages for a long time. My problem is that this mysterious duel between two lovers was never more than a fart in a Jacuzzi.
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Reading Progress

07/31/2012 page 346
89.0% "I am very close to DNF. This book has no substance, just extraordinarily beautiful descriptions and vague 'mysteries'. Must. Keep. Going." 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Nemo (the Moonlight Library) Glad I am not the only one!


Belle I loved it, but I did think it would be a lot creepier and more action packed.


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) I didn't expect creepiness, and not exactly action-packed per se, but I did expect what I was actually told about in the blurb.

All in all I don't regret reading it because it showed me exactly how grand descriptions can be achieved, but I was disappointed.


Alicia (is beyond tired of your *ish) Great review. That blurb is one of the absolute worst in being a complete let down. I want to find whoever wrote it and make them...I don't know, read FSoG or something.


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) Thank you. I just couldn't believe it... it was like it was a different book.

That being said, The Night Circus stands on its own merits. It just wasn't for me.


Alicia (is beyond tired of your *ish) It was. I want to read the book that blurb was really talking about.


Suzanne Your review cracked me up! I never read the back-of-book blurb so I had no pre-conceived ideas to spoil the fun. However, your points are well-aimed! If I didn't like my experience reading the story so much, I would have rated it as you did.


message 9: by Kendra (new)

Kendra You can’t just dance around in circles, waving your arms and going ‘woooooo, I’m so spooky and mysterious!’

Oh my God, your review was one of the most hilarious things I have ever read. I'm glad I read it before I decided to pick up this book today. Although I am a lover of beautifully written descriptions and prose, this book just sounds cheesy. Thanks for the laughs!


Diana I wonder if the reviews she got were... just fluffs.


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) LOL you guys crack me up.


message 12: by Emma (new) - rated it 1 star

Emma I don't really find the prose perfect. The illustrations seem quite indulgent and there is an occasional awkward turn of phrase. But it was still nice language mostly


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) Different strokes for different folks. I thought the way she described things was luxurious and luscious.


Stella Luceat What about her beating to death her readers with the word "that"? Did you not notice it? Just wondering, honest. Over use of *that* word is a huge pet peeve so maybe it's not an alarmingly obvious transgression to everyone else.


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) Stella wrote: "What about her beating to death her readers with the word "that"? Did you not notice it? Just wondering, honest. Over use of *that* word is a huge pet peeve so maybe it's not an alarmingly obvious ..."

I read the book some time ago so I don't recall the specific usage of the word 'that'. However, I will take your word for it. Pet peeves obviously stand out a lot more to individuals.


Emily Merrell "You need to actually give me some answers. It wasn’t mysterious at all, it was just vague!" <--THIS! A thousand times, this.


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) Emily wrote: ""You need to actually give me some answers. It wasn’t mysterious at all, it was just vague!" <--THIS! A thousand times, this."

I'm glad you feel that way as well!


Lissa I love your review and agree with everything in it. I could barely finish this book in the three weeks I had it out from the library. The imagery was lovely, but there was no plot, the romance wasn't interesting, and the time jumps and POV jumps were unnecessary and confusing. And wtf was up with that blurb? How can the blurb promise action and drama when the story moves at a glacial pace and then ends with a whimper instead of a bang?


Nemo (the Moonlight Library) Lissa wrote: "I love your review and agree with everything in it. I could barely finish this book in the three weeks I had it out from the library. The imagery was lovely, but there was no plot, the romance wasn..."

The imagery really was something special, and I read in an interview somewhere the author said that was her favourite part, she wrote lots of vignettes and then had to come up with a plot. Unfortunately, that shows.


Lissa I'm not surprised by that at all.


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