The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Book review

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genre/Themes: Magical Realism, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Blurb from Goodreads

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. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknown 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. 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.

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.

My Review

This book was incorrectly marketed.

It should have been sold as a sleeping aid because it is so blimmin’ dull. I fell asleep on five separate occasions while reading this…DURING THE DAY!!! It bored me that much!!

What is The Night Circus about?

Well there’s a magical circus that’s held only at night, it mysteriously travels all over the world and is actually supposed to be the stage for something much deeper than simple circus acts…

It started off fairly well.

There was a nice setup of atmosphere with the circus described in infinite detail but there was also an interesting setting up of the novel and who were to be the important players.

And then the circus was described again.

And again.

And again….

But the thing was, the descriptions of the circus weren’t actually that revealing. Okay we had tastes and smells, descriptions of fantastical tents with sights and sounds to surprise and astonish…

But these descriptions still kept me as a reader at arm’s length from the novel. I knew this was supposed to be a magical and mysterious circus to wonder and amaze me forevermore… But when a book just focuses on the physical aspects of the circus and forgets to inhabit it with vibrant characters, things can get boring very quickly.

The circus inhabitants were coldly forgotten in this book. Yes we were given their job titles (illusionist, contortionist, card reader etc) but this is just a surface description. Where was the depth?? The multilayered characters who have both personality and feelings? The beautiful flawed human behind the mysterious?

And the plot???

What plot!

I’m still looking for it.

Surprisingly enough I’m perfectly okay with slow moving books without plot. I usually prefer them.

But this comes with a caveat.

The book must then be laden with gloriously detailed characters. The pages need to come to life with their deeply held emotions. It should be a character study. About the interaction of people. And this book had such a fantastic opportunity to do just that but it failed miserably.

We were told there was a game of magic and illusion between two of the major characters. That they need not know the reasons behind this game other than they must take part until there is a victor. There are no rules, details, rhyme or reason to this game…

Sounds mysterious right?

A great page turner where you imagine tiny details of this game are slowly revealed at the same time to both the reader and the two innocent, compelled contestants. Perhaps they will be shown to merely be pawns in a greater, longstanding magical battle with the instigators of the game being involved in a final showdown? So many possibilities…

Of course we got none of that.

Look mystery is all great and well for the beginning of the book to whet the reader’s appetite but it’s just lazy writing to not eventually colour in the detail of this game.

Not once did I care for a character in this book…

Not even in a negative fashion.

There was no one to truly hate, no one to truly root for…

No one who came alive in the pages of this book.

There was just a beautiful circus and some nice descriptions in the beginning.

Sadly I think the author was too in love with describing her circus and forgot to give it a beating heart. This book left me utterly cold.

My Socials

46 thoughts on “The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Book review

  1. Aww, I’m sorry you didn’t like it but at least your review is hilarious. “What plot?? I’m still looking for it” had me cracking up! I’ve been hovering around ‘The Night Circus’ for years now because I’ve heard both love and hate reviews about it, but to be honest sometimes I can’t deal with ornate descriptions if…that’s the main selling point about the book. I’d rather just read poetry then – at least I’d also connect with the poet too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I always say ignore the reviews and read it if the blurb appeals to you. Because reviews are so subjective anyway and really all they do is temper the hype perhaps and you then might find yourself truly connecting with this novel

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great eview Emer!!! I’m with you on this one. I wasn’t a fan of this one either. At first I thought I might have picked up the wrong book because everyone loved it so much 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oooh, I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this, it is one I want to get around to reading soon because I loved The Starless Sea! I am curious as to what I will think of it now though! Great review, well said criticisms, definitely understandable 😊💜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YAS I AGREE. Omg, this book. I mean, I enjoyed the descriptions but in the end it everything felt so flat and I was so disappointed. I wasn’t invested. I was bored out of my gourd. I was trying so hard to find and feel the magic that I was wondering what the hell everyone else was reading because I was sure it couldn’t be the same book 😂 That’s why I’m hesitant to read Starless Sea, but also the hype is making me feel FOMO lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OOOOOH LOOK AT US BONDING OVER DISLIKING THE SAME BOOK!!! <3333 #FriendshipGoals 😂😂😂😂 Oh I added the starless sea to a gr shelf…. my would rather chew my own eyeballs than read shelf. It’s currently my favourite named shelf on gr…… BUT I DIGRESS So my friend Gabby got the starless sea in a book box I think and she sent me a photo of a few pages and lol no will I be reading it. So overly wordy but without actually saying anything (basically the same issues as the night circus ooops!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess we’re on the same page! I never liked the book, and that romantic trope, meh. It was so dull and even predictable that I just wanted to be done with it. It was such a waste because the start was really good, perhaps Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange-esque. It got waylaid in the middle and simply fell off the seams as it progressed further.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a shame you didn’t like this – it’s one of my favourites. I understand the criticisms regarding the lack of plot, and perhaps Celia and Marco are not the most engaging of characters. However, I think the studies of setting are masterful, and I think Morgenstern’s use of second-person voice within the novel is interesting. My favourite characters are Herr Theissen and Isobel (not just for the name!), but each to their own!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s such a shame that there was so much potential here and it got lost in repetitive description. I’ve got this book coming up soon in my book club. I can say assuredly I’m a bit apprehensive to read it now. Great review Emer, I love how you’ve summed it up in the last paragraph!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. EMER ARE YOU SERIOUS??? I thought I was the only one who hated this book!! Like…WHAT WAS THE PLOT, THOUGH? I kept waiting for the book to start!! And then they were just in love!! This book hurt me!

    I’m not happy that this book hurt you; I DO FEEL VINDICATED, THOUGH.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Haha!! WHAT PLOT? I want to know as well. Can someone explain to me what the plot of this book is?
    I agree I fell asleep several times as well :/ The descriptions were awful and boring, they didn’t bring anything to the story. Awesome review Emer :*

    Liked by 1 person

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