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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: 'The Night Circus"

By Erin Morgenstern                                      
Literary fiction
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0385534635

A story, a fable, an enchantment, however one can describe The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern's magical and profound novel, it is a richly rewarding reading experience.

Le Cirque des Rêves arrives without announcement and leaves without warning. It is only open at night. It is mysterious yet welcoming, open to infinite explorations yet providing exactly what its visitors seek. The circus is the stage upon which two aged magicians set their pawns to play out the latest phase of a high-stakes game, and it is their world.

Celia is the daughter of the magician Prospero, although he doesn't know of her existence until she is left with him as a young child. Prospero's old foe, Mr. A.H__, scours orphanages until he finds a boy he can train. Both Celia and Marco grow up in Dickensian horror, sacrificing everything to the arts of illusion. The circus entices other people who contribute to its embellishments. Whether they know it or not, they are all part of the game.

But the game and the two main characters don't suffocate the narrative. Instead, short chapters that deal with an intriguing cast of characters and stand-alone prose poems propel the reader toward discovering yet more delights.

The novel calls to mind such entertainments as The Strange Case of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and the film The Illusionist, and author Morgenstern has noted these works as well in such interviews as one with School Library Journal. But The Night Circus is its own complete world, serving as metaphor as well as stage. Morgenstern does not play tricks on her readers, but provides opportunities for them to enjoy both a straight-forward story and complex layering that can both reveal and draw a veil over its tropes of love, yearning and remembrance.

Just as the circus draws reveurs who follow it from location to location, The Night Circus will draw besotted readers into discovering yet one more tent, yet one more character, yet one more page in this big, beautiful story that contains many tales. And they are all about the power of love and the need for story.

©2011 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission


  1. I've requested this one from my local library. Looks interesting and unusual.

  2. Definitely unusual, with superbly created world and characters. I'm even looking forward to reading it again as soon as possible.

  3. The descriptions are lush and I found myself going back to read this book just for the beautiful words. I am NOT a fan of overly descriptive novels, but this one was really worked for me. I couldn't quite figure out where the story was going until it was over and it didn't matter, I wanted to join the circus. Oh, forget the review. THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ THIS YEAR. least I can't remember one I liked better so far.