The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (book review).

The best way to describe this book, ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern, is a combination of a few different tales. To be honest, the actual circus is merely one element. Firstly, we have a magical competition that originates between two older illusionists which they then bind their young protégés into using magical rings. These two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, then have to compete showing off their skills in a mysterious competition that seems to have rules that no-one really explains or understands. Running alongside this story is that of outsider Bailey and a pair of twins, Widget and Poppet, who live in the circus and the interesting times they get up to within the circus environs. This way the reader gets to see inside the tents, alongside Bailey to witness the stunning magical effects, then we get to see Celia and Marco semi-show how they’re achieved. I’ve not explained this very well at all, this sounds particularly boring, but this goes to show just how spectacular an author Erin Morgenstern really is because this book, as they say, is much more than the sum of its parts.


This is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Erin Morgenstern seems to be able to create images in the reader’s mind without using overly flowery language. In fact, the language she does use is quite stark and bare. I’m not sure how she manages this and whether it works for every reader, but for me it really does work. I wanted this book to last forever but, at the same time, I wanted to read as much as I could at each sitting. It was one of those kind of books.

I loved the way you got so much in this book, the love stories, the magical competition and all the wonderfully described tents filled with things you can’t even imagine. There are contortionists, acrobats and illusionists, alongside tents made entirely of snow and ice, some contain cloud mazes, while others form mazes made of hundreds of different rooms. Even the food in this book sounded amazing, so much so that I could even taste it while I was reading. The best way to describe this book and, to be honest, I hate doing this because you should never compare books in this way, is a combination of the fun elements of Harry Potter using the lovely sounding food and the playful magic and the darker elements of ‘Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell’ but much, much better, along with the Victorian setting.

This book is not fast paced at all. It is definitely a book for lovers of slow descriptive writing that draws you in. It is full of atmosphere rather than massive amounts of plot or character development. This is just the type of book I love to read every now and again.

My only complaint with this book is that it finished. I wish Morgenstern would write a collection of short stories about the various characters, more so the ones we didn’t really learn much about like Mme. Padva and Tsukiko as I need to know more about their history. I was also not entirely happy with the way the book ended, it all seemed a little rushed and not completely explained which I felt uncomfortable with. Overall, I found myself loving this book and wanting to read more by Erin Morgenstern. All I can say is that you need to read this book if you love magical tales set in the Victorianesque era.

Sarah Bruch

(pub: Vintage. 387 page hardback. Price: £ 3.86 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-84655-523-7)
check out website: www.vintage-books.co.uk

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