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The Night Circus | [Erin Morgenstern]

The Night Circus

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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, 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.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

©2011 Erin Morgenstern (P)2011 Random House

What the Critics Say

"The Night Circus made me happy. Playful and intensely imaginative, Erin Morgenstern has created the circus I have always longed for, and she has populated it with dueling love-struck magicians, precocious kittens, hyper-elegant displays of beauty, and complicated clocks. This is a marvelous book." (Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife)

"Self-assured, entertaining debut that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic…. Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Debut author Morgenstern doesn't miss a beat in this smashing tale of greed, fate, and love... a giant, magical story destined for bestsellerdom. This is an electric debut on par with Special Topics in Calamity Physics." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (6302 )
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4.1 (5595 )
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4.4 (5599 )
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3 star
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  •  
    Pamela Los Angeles, CA, United States 09-22-11
    Pamela Los Angeles, CA, United States 09-22-11 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The circus of your dreams"

    This was one of the most wonderful books I've ever heard. A feast for the ears. The story is fantastically imaginative, the prose is richly visual, I could see all the details of the circus and smell the popcorn and caramel. I wanted to visit the circus myself! The narrator does a wonderful job bringing everything to life. I didn’t want it to end. Once it was over, I couldn’t wait to listen again. This is everything an audiobook should be - try it, you won't be sorry.

    94 of 98 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 09-18-11
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 09-18-11 Member Since 2005

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dreamlike Experience to Savor"

    This story envelops the reader. I cannot think of another book I have so thoroughly relished. With each and every sentence the author invites you to feel, taste and smell the Night Circus.This circus is like nothing else, beyond imagination. Yet I could see myself there, and although the circus is in only black and white, I was immersed in color and texture. Listening to this story is like eating the most amazing meal in the most beautiful placed you can imagine while sitting next to someone with whom you are infatuated. What a wonderful dream, I want to return and feel it all again, so sad when the book ended. And the narration brings it all alive, kudos to both author and narrator.

    142 of 150 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria 09-19-11
    Victoria 09-19-11 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deliciously Imaginative"

    This beautifully descriptive book could not come out during a better season when the imagination is already a tingle for Halloween. This world created by Ms. Morgenstern rolls out the red carpet for characters are rich and strong in their own right. This is a book that will always be on my iPod.

    59 of 63 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teddy Bronx, NY, United States 01-04-12
    Teddy Bronx, NY, United States 01-04-12

    "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "It does feel magical"

    The narrator made this book for me. The story itself is a pretty cool, I like the concept and it was just plain fun to listen to. I think the pace of the story slows down a lot of times and as much as some of the other characters were developed, I could see greater development still being done or more side plots being created to compensate for the rather slow pace of the story sometimes. Still though, fascinating book to listen to and you really do get a sense that you are in a magical place...

    44 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Danehy Bainbridge Island, WA 09-20-11
    L. Danehy Bainbridge Island, WA 09-20-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Wonder and Curiousity"

    I just finished the Night Circus. The story style reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman, who I think is a wonderful writer in the genre of the "curiousier and curiousier." This story weaves around you from the start, and in the end leaves you wishing to open your mind to all sorts of possibilities. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

    60 of 65 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam West Covina, CA, United States 09-21-11
    Pam West Covina, CA, United States 09-21-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    Story
    "Magic"

    A complex story, it goes from locations in time to locations in the world. It is a story of love and of hubris. There are secrets that have you hanging- why? what is going on? It is a real world, fully realized, of things that cannot exist, but do. Add to that Mr. Dale's inimitable style and voice characterizations, and this is a winner. This is one of my best books of the year- audio or written.

    40 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Everett, WA, United States 01-31-13
    Karen Everett, WA, United States 01-31-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It felt really disconnected. Disappointing."

    This book had come highly recommended to me by friends, and it's certainly in a genre/era that I enjoy. I read a lot of victorian era fantasy fiction and, usually, I enjoy it immensely. This book, however, was always just a little off the mark. Character development was, presumably, sacrificed for setting development which, ultimately, gave the whole piece a rather hollow feel. There was also a lack of consistency in the characters... It was difficult to determine who were the pro- and antagonists. You found yourself rooting for a character one minute and finding them distasteful in the next. The back story was never really hammered into place, giving everything a rather hazy, made up sort of feel. Reveals were too brief and, as a result, anticlimactic. Possibly the most frustrating thing is that, for a book that supposedly takes place in the late 1800 and 1900's, the romantic relationship between the two protagonists feels uncomfortably modern, bordering on a new age, tantric-y, hipsterish vibe that seems strangely out of place. Likewise, while the IDEA behind the circus seems intriguing and fraught with possibility, much of the descriptions of the attractions/performers sound like the author had recently gone to a Cirque du Soleil show and then wrote what she saw into the narrative. Again... That uncomfortably contemporary feel that felt laid onto the era, rather than emanating from within it.

    All in all, I think this author has potential. I think she just probably needs more practice and she should, perhaps, consider writing from within an era that she's actually familiar with. This story had potential too but, alas, that's too late to really be realized. From a performance perspective, Jim Dale did a solid, thorough job here, even if sounding a bit too bumpkinish for some of the more "elite" roles in this book. I am not likely to listen to this again.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Modesto, CA 07-02-12
    Joe Modesto, CA 07-02-12 Member Since 2009
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    "I had high hopes for this one - unfortunately."

    I don't normally read these kinds of books, but the reviews were great. A lot of listeners loved the book. I didn't. The story had a lot of promise, but the characters that ended up being the ones focused on had a good beginning, a poor conclusion and a soft middle-story. The descriptions were good, but didn't add too much to the plot of the story. There was also a weird digression into the occult that added nothing to the story and was a little annoying. The narrator was excellent; the story itself had promise. The descriptions were good but didn't build the story as well as they could have.
    For me, this was a case of a bad fit. It's a case of "everything is not for everyone." You may enjoy this book. I wouldn't recommend the book, though.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim TEMECULA, CA, United States 10-25-11
    Tim TEMECULA, CA, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Magically Realistic"

    This is a fascinating and unusual story. It fuses the golden age of the late 1890 with romantic magical realism …think Cirq du Soleil meets Moulin Rouge. The writing is luxurious and brilliantly evocative. I love the way the author takes time to build landscapes of the imagination. At one level you can enjoy this like a Breughel or LS Lowry painting and lose yourself in the intricately drawn and mysterious detail. At another level it’s a strange love story, or the tale of a struggle between two brilliant but flawed men.
    In narrative terms it’s not a page turner and that’s just fine. The names and locations can be a little distracting and the central plot is so obfuscated by the fabulous literary embroidery I can see why some find it too much to struggle through, the cloth is just too rich. However the beauty or execution in of its self makes the journey worthwhile.
    Whilst I hate traditional circus of clowns and lions under the big top I have always loved the dark spectacle of Cirq du Soleil. The author invites you peer through the flap in the tent or press your nose up against the store window of a Victorian toy shop and wonder at the treats inside.
    The performance by Jim Dale is very good, he’s always great value. One slight distraction is that the voices he uses for the protagonists are essentially the same as the he used for Ron and Ginny Weasley when he performed the Harry Potter books…which can be a little distracting. These are very minor complaints, barely enough to warrant the deduction of a star. This is an unusual and captivating story, beautifully told, a must listen pick.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Brunswick, ME, United States 09-22-11
    Christopher Brunswick, ME, United States 09-22-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Fascination."
    Any additional comments?

    Beautiful in its delicate intimacy. The prose draws one in with a structure that evades the jarring bullishness of "sudden action" fiction. Instead the author lets the story build slowly; "action" is treated with the same tempo as any other scene. As one listens, it is easy feel a little lost in the maze of time lines, characters, places and and emotions, but I think that is what the author had in mind. A book that tells a dream like story in a way that makes you the reader, or listener in this case, feel like you are witnessing the events in a dream. Each description is so detailed yet is only a snapshot of a given view, as if you focused for only a moment on one object in time and space and then moved on into the next. This book is uncommon in its power to antagonize the imagination to "see" the images in the same way we see images in a dream. The story line itself was a touch to well known for me, as a codification of Shakespearean tragedy, Greek, and Modernistic redemptive tragedy and I could see the tales that the author drew from to form the basis of this work. The story does travel at one speed never going faster or slower from beginning to end, yet that was what was intended to maintain that dream-like feeling. This is an excellent snowy night book, or a nice glass of mulled cider on the porch in Autumn kinda day.
    A word about Jim Dale. I wonder if I was not the only one who had a few minutes disorientation when I heard Hermione Granger's "voice" come from Celia Bowen's mouth. Or Albus's voice from Alexander. The voices were well chosen and Jim went to the extremes of his talent to maintain the beauty and power of the dream. I don't think anyone could have done this story better....well maybe lLoyd James or Gerard Doyle could have given it a good run. You will have to forgive me because Jim narrated the Potter series and for over 200 hours I heard Celia's voice used for Hermione, it takes a little bit to transition :) Well done Jim!

    53 of 62 people found this review helpful
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