The Night Circus Review

Third and Final review for today. I know, it’s been so long since I’ve had this many reviews all at once. Well, be prepared. I have all these series that are being completed and reviewed by myself, in the coming weeks. It has taken a minute but it is finally here. We are getting back to the swing of things!

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

That being said… Spoilers ahead.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Synopsis From The Book

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. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Fantasy – Historical | A – E | Child Abuse and Neglect | Identity, Magic, Love, Sacrifices, Dreams

Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

Alrighty. Going on to this book which is my personal Book clubs book of the month. Circus books, how exciting. This is probably gonna take me a solid few hours to read but I have nothing else to do at work at this time anyway

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Wowww. So I really loved this book! I feel like I need to go in depth about hoe much I like this book, but I am just floored. It is a book that I think I might want to do an expansion on later on, for the circus itself specifically, however I am not sure I can. It isn’t like some of the other fives I’ve had where I can rant forever.

This book left me breathless. Wordless. And believing in magic more than I have in years.

Plot Overview:

The novel is told in three parts. One is The “You.” Two is the main story. Three is Bailey. One is simply a beautiful description of the circus and all about it. As a story told to another. Two and three are interwoven.

Celia is given to her father after her mother killed herself. Her father realizes that she has a natural gift for charms, we will call them. He takes her to a man named Alexander and Alexander tests her. She is sworn to a game that she will not know the rules of for many years to come. Her father trains her for years in her abilities until she can change colors of things, changed the world, and even heal that which is broken. 

Marco is picked up by Alexander shortly after Alexander met Celia. He is taken from an orphanage and for the next decade he is trained through books and once a week lessons on his own gifts. At nineteen he is told to get a job with a man, to get ahead in the competition. Marco, who has met a girl named Isobel, a fortune teller, does so. Marco gets a job where he becomes an assistant to a man who is designing the most magical circus of all time. Marco helps.

Celia’s father “dies” but is really made into a ghost like force when searching for immortality. Celia becomes the illusionist for the circus, after auditioning. Marco realizes she is his competitor. For years the two compete in who can dazzle the best at the circus. Celia is always with the circus and Marco is away. Both of their powers creating the impossibility OG the circus and her tents of wonder. In time Celia realizes that Marco is her competitor. They fall in love. But they realize that they can’t be. For the gave is only done when one of them gives up. 

Isobel, who was the fortune teller of the circus, has her heart broken by Marco (for she thought he loved her) and breaks the delicate balance she had helped them establish on the circus, by taking away her power from it. Marco or Celia is going to die. The twins, Poppet and Widget (born the day the circus began) get the help of a boy named Bailey. 

Bailey was a boy who came to the circus at day and was escorted away by Poppet. He is the only one who can save the circus as Celia breaks Marco’s control over it and is losing herself. Marco and Celia become woven into the very nature of the circus, and Bailey becomes the holder of its power. The twins wrap everything else up as lose ends and the game ends as a stalemate with the two of them together within the circus itself. 

What I Liked:

Isobel Martin; I put her first, because I really liked her as an outside character looking in. I wish we got so much more of her, when we did not.

Friedrick Thiessen; On that same note, this man I really liked to. Seeing how he builds clocks and then goes to the Circus and falls in love to a point where he becomes a big name person on the circus and her followers, was a nice story to watch. I felt my heart drop when he died.

Marco Alisdair; Marco is such a weird name for him. It doesn’t fit him, IMO. However as my friend explained, Marco is always masking himself in lies and images. So Marco is just another one of those things to hide himself. As a person, I liked Marco. The way he went about things and his magic in specific. I’m happy he ended happy after everything he went through.

Celia Bowen; Her childhood was traumatic. Her magic was so cool in the way that she used it about herself and the world around her. As a person, I would have liked a little bit more for her. I feel like a lot of her growth came in large spurts all at once, but I forgave it because of the time line.

Alexander; Wow what a horrible person. However he is old, so he doesn’t really know what it means to be mortal anymore. Still makes him horrible for how he treated Marco, and let this challenge go on for so long.

Hector Bowen, Prospero the Enchanter; Lol he was outrightly horrible, trying to control everything. I’m so happy that Celia kicked him to the curb. As a antagonist he was interesting. Im still not sure why he thought the Circus would be a good venue, but he did. Its partially his fault that things ended up the way that they did.

Tsukiko; I hope she can find a true family in the circus. After everything that happened to her, I just wish her happiness. She was controlled by the game before too and that’s not fair.

Bailey; What a cute kid. I’m not sure that he knows exactly what he got himself into by accepting the circus, but he took on the opportunity for magic. I hope that he finds his stay with the circus as magical as it was for him while in his youth.

Penelope, Poppet; Oh, I love her. She and her brother were my favorite characters. Their birth to their childhood and their growing up. All of it was so interesting, as was her power.

Winston, Widget; He seems to be the only rational person in all of it. Perhaps it is because he can see things. I’m not sure, but his rationality was a good balance to the influx of change all around in the book. Even if he was only a major character towards the end. Also, he narrates the you sections, which are my favorite part.

The Challenge; Honestly, this confused me so much at the beginning. The rules, the venue. The fact that its to prove that one type of magic is superior to the other. Which is funny because the competitors aren’t doing magic the way that their instructor wants to, so the proxies in the war aren’t even a good representation of the powers. I think it is a wonderful statement on the use of control, vagueness, and need to prove ones self, for without taking the initiative, nothing will be proven.

The You Sections and the Nonlinear Story; Throughout the book there is a framing narrative as told in 2nd person. These sections are my favorite part. Seeing the circus through the lens of the 2nd person is so enthralling. It also frames the story so nicely especially with the end. Since the book jumps in time so often, this narrative helps keep the book structured, which explains because it is memories being retold.

The Circus; This is my second favorite part of the whole book. It is amplified by the you perspective. The circus itself is electric, alive, breathing, and everything I could have ever wanted. It is magical, it is amazing, and it is something I think would change my whole world, if I ever went. The way that the author weaves the circus together is so magical.

Magic; I often give soft magic systems a pass, because I don’t want to be so harsh on them. I’m partial to hard magic systems and so when I have a soft one, I let it slide. Preference doesn’t mean bad. However. This book is the softest of magic systems I have read. It, combined with the prose and the circus as a whole, is also perhaps one of my favorite magic systems. I don’t understand it. I don’t know it. But it gives wonder. It is magic. And for that I praise it so highly. You let it capture you and spin you around without wanting to know more.

Prose; This. This. This. The prose of this book is so liquid. It seeps into you as a sort of poem or song, that draws your forward. Everything is so enticing, and withheld, like rose colored glasses. There are not enough words for me to explain how beautifully this book is written. Just, read it. It does slow the reader down, however. Fair warning.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

Maybe would have made the romance just as tense towards the end. After a certain part it starts to fizzle out a little and then we approach the end. I would have loved to keep the electricity.

Book Club:

Most of us really liked the prose and the world over the characters, but one of us really liked the characters over the world, which was interesting. We talked on what it would be like to exist in this circus, and on whether or not we would go. In general we were mostly gushing about the world and the implications.

Rating: 5/5

Notable Quotes:

“We must put effort and energy into anything we wish to change.” – pg 20

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told to see.” -pg 28

“Secrets have power, and that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important one, 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.
“This is, in part, why there is less magic in the world today. Magic is secret and secrets are magic, after all, and years upon years of teaching and sharing magic and worse. Writing it down in fancy books that get all dusty with age has lessened it, removed its power bit by bit. It was inevitable, perhaps, but not unavoidable. Everyone makes mistakes.” – pg173

pt 1
pt 2
pt 3

One thought on “The Night Circus Review

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