Roxie asked:

Skimming through the reviews, I'm struck by a pattern- people who liked the Night Circus didn't like this book, and vice versa. Anyone who's read both books who can shed some light on why there might be a divide like that? I'm so curious!

Karen "Museum" immediately reminded me of "Night Circus" both because the writing style was beautiful, and because of the elements of fantasy. I loved Night Circus, although I admit not much really "happened." Yet the descriptive writing was so beautiful, I could hardly put the book down. "Museum" moved at a more rapid pace, with more "real world" events. The writing was perhaps not quite as extraordinary, but still beautifully done. I liked them both a great deal.
Emma This is interesting! They seem to naturally draw comparisons but I don't feel the two books are actually that similar. I absolutely fell in love with Night Circus and I really enjoyed this one but for me it's not on the same level. The Night Circus really takes you away into a magical world with beautiful, luxurious writing, whereas Museum offers more of a plot-driven story and character study, framed by real-life events, using the elements of 'fantasy' as more of a backdrop. Both are great in their own ways and I don't think anyone should be put off one based on how they felt about the other.
Susan Abbott As soon as I started Museum, it reminded me of Night, but in fact they are in quite different styles. Museum is a story of events in the real world, where the magic is all illusion. It is about the struggle of young Coralie to find her own way in the world and obtain freedom from her father, a tyrant to all of the extraordinary people. Other characters have similar personal journeys.
By contrast, the Night Circus is about a world where real magic occurs. Two innocents become the pawns of others in a game they do not fully understand at first, and their lives become inextricably bound together. Through their creation of increasingly beautiful and complex events/scenes/illusions (how would we describe them?) they are gradually sending love letters to each other. They find a way to come together in the end, and overcome their rather hideous destiny, imposed on them by the older magicians.
I liked both books, but they are actually quite different. To enjoy the Night Circus, you have to let yourself be taken along on the narrative and not try to sort things out too much.
I enjoyed both books. But I would read the Night Circus again, because the writing is so well crafted.
Maxine I must say that your observation seems to be right. I've read both books and I didn't enjoy The Night Circus, but I loved this book. All I can do is to agree because I don't know why I didn't really like the Night Circus--I did at first, but gradually liked it less the more I read. I enjoyed Museum the whole way through, though.
Victoria Weinstein I couldn't get through "Night Circus" and I'm having a blast zipping through this one! The characters in "Night Circus" seemed inert to me. And I'm a plotty kind of gal, I like a great storyteller, which I think Hoffman is.
Q That is interesting!
I have read both books, and I enjoyed both of them. There is definitely a different pace to them - Night Circus, so me, was a little slow. The details and images were exquisite and beautiful, but there wasn't a lot of "action", really. With Hoffman's book, I think the pace was quicker - it jumped back between points-of-view, and from past to present. Maybe the folks who didn't like Hoffman's book felt like it was too jarring? (Or the reverse - Hoffman fans found the Night Circus too slow-paced?) The Night Circus was almost luxuriously detailed, and it was so overflowing with fantasy. Hoffman's book delved into historical things (the Triangle fire, for example) and that's a pretty different feel.
Not sure if that helps answer the question, but as somebody who read and liked both books, that's just a quick thought.
Out of curiosity, I wonder if there's as big of a divide with some other similarly-themed books, like Geek Love, or Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children?
Grace I have read both - loved this but dislike The Night Circus. One of the reasons I think this worked so much better for me is that both books feature a heroine with an abusive father, but whereas in the Night Circus it didn't really have much impact on the plot and was swiftly more or less forgotten (IMO), this book explored it fully and it was a really important aspect of her character.

I feel like this book also has rather a bit more plot so to speak, and I found Coralie and Eddie more interesting characters than Celia and Marco.

Worth noting maybe that I don't dislike Morgernstern's writing, because I read The Starless Sea and absolutely loved that. I think Night Circus just wasn't to my taste.
Shomeret I'm currently reading this book and while there are things I like about it, I'm
not loving it. The Night Circus was cotton candy--beautiful but lacking substance. This book definitely has substance, not froth.
Betsy Gunter I didn't like either one. But for entirely different reasons. Oddly enough, I liked The Night Circus better. Odd because I didn't like it much at all and I usually like Alice Hoffman.
Chuck I seem to be the only one here unfamiliar with The Night Circus. There appear to be at least four different books titled The Night Circus. Who wrote the one you all are referring to? Thanks.
Jan I liked both of them.
Robin I liked both "Museum" and "Night Circus," quite a bit (4 and 5 stars respectively), and didn't see them as all that similar. "Museum" was historical fiction (apparently some characters based upon specific people), whereas "Night Circus" was more the realm of fantasy. Perhaps people generally prefer either one genre or the other. But as for me, I like both.
Tammy Durm I liked this book and did not like Night Circus so I am consistent with this pattern. Very interesting.
Esther I enjoyed both books although I liked Night Circus more. Night Circus was more imaginative and less repetitive and predictable.
Jaclyn Younger Honestly I liked both of them and I can see how they draw on similar topics. For one there is the presence of magic (or what appears to be magic) and how the characters of each of the books struggles to cope with such. There is also the struggle between father and daughter in the quest of the father dictating his daughter's life while, in turn, she wishes to chose her own path. There is also the notion of finding love and, ultimately, acceptance. They two stories have similar elements and are written from similar perspectives (each goes back and forth between the heroine and her future love interest), but I believe that comparisons between the two should be taken with a grain of salt. They are both incredible books and should be approached with an open mind.
Marie Night circus was a fantasy book about magic and the bartering of souls. This book was set in the real world. Death, tragedy, the unkindness of people. Life goes on day to day for the performers and the Wonders were able to find love.
Dianne I enjoyed both books! Even though it's been a few years since I read Night Circus, this book reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading it. I liked The Museum of Extraordinary Things both for the story and the beautiful writing, and for the historical details included in the story.
Rawles Excellent observation!! I read both, loved Night Circus, did not like Museum. I liked the ethereal feel of Circus, the hints of magic, and the heavy prose. Museum was a big disappointment: way too slow, hated the italicized flashbacks, and the abuse Cora suffers was more than I wanted to read about, however true or "real" that situation may be for some. And I actually picked up Museum because I thought it would be more like Circus.
Kelly I actually read Night Circus immediately before reading Museum and that was not the best order for me. I found the male protagonist less interesting than the female focus of the book, yet his chapters and pov went on for pages longer than hers. After the beautiful images and writing in Night, I felt these long descriptions of the forest and the river less interesting than the connection of the characters. The love interests have a connection, but don't actually meet until 200 pages into a 360 page book? Something about Night was more magical for me. I found Museum enjoyable, but more work to finish.
Indra Interesting. I haven't noticed that at all; I've read the night circus, and I loved it, and I just finished this and loved it as well. They are very different books, in my opinion. The only parallel I can really pick out is the fantasy aspect, but The Museum doesn't have any "real" magic or what have you. Maybe the reason some people -ehrm- "strongly prefer" the night circus, is because The Museum has much darker subject matter? And concerns more fairly serious issues throughout. Just speculation.
S. Elizabeth Hm. That's interesting! Alice Hoffman's been around forever though, and this is Erin Morgenstern's first book, right? And having loved Hoffman's beautiful, compelling stories and strange but sympathetic characters for so long, it's difficult to make the comparison. I almost feel that Morgenstern must have been influenced by Hoffman's writing over the years, and yet Museum of Extraordinary Things could have in some part been influenced by Night Circus, as it was published a few years after. I just don't know, and maybe neither one of them is the answer. I loved them both equally.
Gina Dalfonzo I think the tone is much more uneven in Museum. In Circus, we were in a fantasy world all the way through; Museum kept shifting back and forth between realism and a kind of fantasy (though a fantasy that was all illusion). And I didn't think Hoffman always managed the shifts very well.
Blup I loved both books. They both really sucked me into to the story. On the surface they might have a similar topic. But they are very different. Maybe if you liked one of them and expect a similar bookm you are dissapointed, if you go in blind with both of them, I cant imagine you dont like one of them.
Sharon Oh dear! Night Circus is one of my favorite books ever! I have just started this one and now I'm a bit put off. I'll get it read and say more about it once I can form an opinion.
Kim Now I am wondering if I will like this book because I really disliked Night Circus.
Rebecca Engebretson I loved The Night Circus and just picked up The Museum of Extraordinary Things from the library. Can't way to get started.
Image for The Museum of Extraordinary Things
by Alice Hoffman (Goodreads Author)
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more