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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

4.2 (8528 )
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  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 09-28-12
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 09-28-12 Member Since 2015

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Circus is Coming!"

    Within moments of beginning this recording my toes began curling with pleasure and I felt cozy comforters being tucked in around me. This is an extraordinary story with extraordinary narration. Some might describe this story as dark, but a story which is uniformly uplifting can not be dark. Some describe the story as a romance, but a romance is seldom as nuanced. Is it a fantasy? Is it an allegory? Is it a retelling? It does not really matter, for this is a very good story. There is little action and little romance but a bouquet of delightful imagery. I found the story evoking archetypal memories that were familiar and comforting. If you prefer a fast moving story with lots of action, this is not the book for you. I loved the images, the slow even pace, and especially the circus. I suspect this book has forever changed the way I will feel whenever I think of a circus.

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim TEMECULA, CA, United States 10-25-11
    Tim TEMECULA, CA, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2006
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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.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada 09-22-11
    Andrea Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada 09-22-11
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    "This novel did not match the hype around it."

    Not sure what the hype is about. It was a really detailed book with a lot of descriptions and some were really interesting, some not so much. It just ended up being OK. Not great, not wonderful. Not sure I would read it again though. And I found that disappointing. I think a circus setting is marvelous and the idea of magical people controlling it was interesting too but was never made into anything that wowed me. The storey disintegrated into a love story about two people we really didn't know much about personality wise and didn't care that much about. They were not the most interesting people at the circus but the interesting ones didn't get their stories told at all. Over all it was like a novel trying to pull in trends from other books that were big hits. Steampunk, wizards and magic, forbidden love, etc, etc. It was almost like the writer was trying so hard to hit all the trends that they forgot to write a good story. The descriptions of some of the stuff were interesting but descriptions of settings do not a good novel make unless they make the STORY more interesting. This just didn't grab me. But the narrator was great!

    82 of 99 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanne Kaiser 10-18-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Major disappointment"

    This book has gotten very sterling reviews, so I found myself surprised by the strength of my dislike for it. In my view, it was a series of descriptions of the very "magical" circus connected by an undercooked plot. As for the love story--both characters were so dull, I had little interest in what became of them. Even though the word magical appeared countless times in this book, I found it was far from it.

    45 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer ringgold, ga, United States 10-06-11
    Kindle Customer ringgold, ga, United States 10-06-11 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "style vs. substance"

    after all the initial hype and stellar reviews, i was really looking forward to enjoying this book! however, with the exception of the author's vivid and intriguing (initially) descriptions of the circus, this story was abysmal! the plot was flimsy and the characters were awkwardly developed which made the descriptions more tedious as i waited for something (anything) to happen. it was an excruciating exercise in futility!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Seattle, WA 10-25-11
    Kyle Seattle, WA 10-25-11 Member Since 2013
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    "The hype hurt it."

    I want to be careful not to be too hard on this book. It was a good book. It had magical moments. I think it would have fare much better without the hype. With this book being pushed right and left, I expected an ending that truly sparkled. The ending was FINE, but I had hoped for more.

    I would recommend listening to this book, but I would strongly suggest letting it be just a book as if you had never heard anything about it. If you're willing to just be entertained and enjoy the circus, you will likely be happy.

    34 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynne United States 03-02-15
    Lynne United States 03-02-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Hands down, the best book I've listened to..."

    ... in a very long time. I've recommended it to everyone I know and haven't gotten a single response other than that they loved it - and it doesn't matter whether they like war stories and Westerns (my husband) or Lord of the Rings (my son) or Tuesdays with Morrie (my daughter) or PD James novels (my mom). Now, how can you resist a book that has that kind of following?

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica 01-09-13
    Jessica 01-09-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow!"

    When this book came out the reviews were good, but it was because Jim Dale narrated it that made me buy it. I bought it and let it "sit" until now. I'm not a huge fan of period books, that's my only excuse for why I let it sit for so long (Diana Gabaldon being the exception). I'm kicking myself for not listening to it until now. It is awesome! It's very well written. Morgenstern does such an amazing job of describing everything in such a way that it is not tedious and also makes you feel like you're there. At times I swear I could smell popcorn and caramel. I didn't catch on that it was going back and forth in time right away, but I caught on fairly quickly. The narration only makes the book that much more amazing, as I think Jim Dale would be magic reading the yellow pages. An excellent book.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie SPRING, TX, United States 02-01-12
    Stephanie SPRING, TX, United States 02-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Excrutiatingly slow"

    I really wanted to like this book, but it was excruciatingly slow! I listened to it on Audible and the book was broken into two 7-hour parts. When I finally got to the second part, the action got started, but by then I was just ready for it to be over.

    I really had a problem with Jim Dale's narration, too. I loved him reading the Harry Potter series, but for some reason he read this one in a sing-songy voice where every sentence, whether declarative, exclamatory, or interrogative, sounded like a question. At one point while listening in the car I actually yelled at my radio, "Shut up!!" and hit the off button.

    Add to that the book was written in the present tense which also left me on edge, and this was not an enjoyable experience. Ok, I'm done with the whining and I'm on to the next book as quickly as I can!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah Oakland, CA, United States 10-24-11
    Leah Oakland, CA, United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disapointed"

    This was disappointing, I guess just not my style. I accidentally skipped ahead 3 hours and didn't even notice for another hour. It just wasn't a clear story or really all that compelling.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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