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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

Critic Reviews

" 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    10,454
  • 4 Stars
    4,780
  • 3 Stars
    2,116
  • 2 Stars
    671
  • 1 Stars
    375

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11,852
  • 4 Stars
    3,363
  • 3 Stars
    1,030
  • 2 Stars
    239
  • 1 Stars
    183

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    9,297
  • 4 Stars
    4,188
  • 3 Stars
    2,049
  • 2 Stars
    723
  • 1 Stars
    426
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

207 of 224 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Suzn F
  • Fletcher, VT, US
  • 09-18-11

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.

238 of 262 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Grant
  • NANTUCKET, MA, United States
  • 04-18-12

Something about this book bothered me.

It was a pleasant diversion. And well crafted. But for some reason, I was not pulled into this book as others have been. Jim Dale's performance, as usual, was great. But perhaps I would have liked it more if it had been read by a woman. Maybe the thing that bothers me most about this book is that the premise was more mechanical than emotional. Maybe I did not cotton to the rather cryptic and largely unexplained (until the end, and even then not very well explained) bargain struck at the beginning of the book. Maybe the characters were less than three-dimensional. Maybe it just felt like it was made up as it went along ??? like a children's impromptu story. I don't know. All I do know is that The Night Circus did not thrill me. And I really did want to be thrilled.

147 of 163 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing.

What was most disappointing about Erin Morgenstern’s story?

I purchased this book because I was preparing to write a story of my own that takes place in a circus setting. I was interested in how Morgenstern used the circus as a backdrop for her plot and characters. I was disappointed to find that the circus was not a backdrop, but rather seemed like the novel's main character. Morgenstern's descriptions are vivid and beautiful - her prose evokes all senses and brings the setting to life. However, I felt that setting took the place of plot throughout the narrative. For example, in one scene Morgenstern seemed more interested in detailing the changing colors of Celia's dress than delving into Celia's thoughts and feelings. The result was a brilliantly imagined setting with characters that felt two dimensional. I eventually lost interest and stopped listening to the book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 09-28-12

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.

34 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

90 of 102 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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...

73 of 83 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Pam
  • West Covina, CA, United States
  • 09-21-11

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.

63 of 72 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Joe
  • Modesto, CA
  • 07-02-12

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.

100 of 115 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dayle
  • Hoover, Al, United States
  • 05-03-15

Meh

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I tried. I really did. After halfway thru I gave up. It just did not grab me. I kept waiting for something to coalesce with the story, the characters, but it just left me with loose ends. Great premise. Great characters, but too muddy for my taste. Im aware that not all readers are the same, and obviously many loved it. Fantastic narration....

5 of 5 people found this review helpful