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on October 8, 2016
As soon as I finished the Night Circus two things happened; first, it shot to the top of my favorites list and second, I simply had to reread it. I couldn't let the world go so quickly. This is the book I turn to when I want to be encompassed and surrounded by a luscious and fantastic world that is better than mine. I adore the characters, but the descriptions of the circus itself leave marks. When I think of wonder and magic, this world and it's circus are what define those qualities. I've never read anything quite like this, and I'm afraid that I might not ever find something as wonderful as it again, but I hold out hope.
If you like Harry Potter, you'll probably like this, though it is very different.
If you, like me, adore this book and are looking for something else to read, go try Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, and it's sequel Court Duel.
If you want another wonderful way to experience this book: listen to the audiobook. It's read by Jim Dale, and it is magic.
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on October 19, 2017
This book sits somewhere between fabulism and science fiction. A 19th century girl and boy, trained from early childhood as magicians, are destined to meet in a contest that will result in the loser's death; they become lovers. You know this much from the back cover.
The book's great surprise is its description of the Night Circus and its many wonders. Having read Bradbury, Barker, Sturgeon and Stephen King, I was prepared for something in the Evil Carnival line. This circus isn't like that at all, but full of wonderful magics that delight the senses and open the mind. Readers will not be surprised that two such brilliant necromancers are equal to all the challenges they face.
I'd have given this book 5 stars, except that the plot and characters--while good--never quite reached the great heights of the magic. I'd put this book on a par with Sturgeon's The Dreaming Jewels, or Barker's The Thief of Always.
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on January 7, 2017
I read and loved this book when it first came out on 2011. I just reread it for book club and love it as much if not more! I was a bit anxious about revisiting The Night Circus as sometimes books don't hold up over time or the readers change. I am sorry to see so many negative reviews of this marvelous book. I view it as a fairy tale for adults and I think it hits all the marks.

The story is complex and twisty. It takes place between 1873-1903 and moves back and forth in time and across the US and Europe. Two "magicians," Prospero and Alexander each take on a young charge and teach them to be the best. Prospero works with his daughter Celia while Alexander adopts a young boy named Marco. Marco and Celia are bound to each other, though they do not meet for some years. They are pitted against each other in a contest but are given no guidelines. A strange man named Chandresh forms a circus and this becomes their venue. Marco and Celia, sometimes with the help of a few of Chandresh's associates, construct elaborate tents full of wonder and magic. The circus arrives and departs without warning. Celia and Marco eventually meet and fall in love. They start to piece together details of the contest and the horrible and inevitable outcome. Can they stop the challenge that will destroy them?

It is difficult to sum up the plot and do it justice. It is so much more nuanced and engaging than what I just wrote. I found the book hard to put down. The main criticism of this book appears to be a lack of character development. That is true, but fairy tales are plot driven and evocative. I can't recall a fairy tale that is a character study. I really hope that people will give this book a try. Ms. Morgenstern has an enviable imagination. Her writing is detailed and gorgeous--you feel like you are actually at the circus, experiencing the magic and mystery. I want to believe that the wonders of The Night Circus really exist.
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on September 30, 2016
This book was phenomenal. I finished it over a week ago and I am still thinking about it. It is just one of those books that I know I will read again. The timeline can get confusing at times but you get used to the main story lines being a little out of sync. In the end, I was so sad it was over. It creates exactly the beautiful, dreamy, dark atmosphere the cover depicts. I felt like I was in the book and it transported me to the locations being described. That is really all you can ask for from a great book.
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on February 11, 2017
I started this on audio book which just enhanced the magical experience for me. I was truly more entranced, lost, invested, and enthralled with this story then I have been with others. I loved every minute of this experience, which is what this was I lived completely in this story. The writing in this novel was magnificently eloquent. I adored that is was a narrative and when you finally found out who the narrator was it was so fitting and perfect. They talk a lot about how stories are magic, and honestly this story helps you to believe that especially the beginning of the chapter Divination V. Characters were all written so splendidly that you believed they were actually living people you could track down and be friends with. Marco and Celia are so strong and amazingly caring that from the beginning I wanted them both to win. The twins were some of my favorites especially when Bailey showed up their friendship was great to experience. I think everyone should read this book. I just could go on and on about how much I genuinely love this story, definitely one of my favorites.
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on July 5, 2016
The Night Circus tells the story of two illusionists, Celia and Marco, that were bound to each other by their sponsors to compete in a competition of magical skill. As children, they both train to compete against each other, and the competition will go on until the end of one (or both) of their lives. Both illusionists are given little information about their opponent, and only know that the competition exists and that they are expected to be the victor. The setting is, as one might gather from the title, a circus that is only open at night. It's a traveling circus that miraculously travels between countries and continents, and those that follow the circus around the world and attend as often as they can are called reveurs.

This story timeless, spaceless, intangible, and whimsical. It's in its own world and grabs you and keeps you there. I wish I could visit the circus and travel along with it as a reveur. I will say that it helps if you read this book with a suspension of disbelief- while the various attractions that Celia and Marco are described beautifully, there's a lot of whimsy to them.

There was a quote toward the end that will stick with me. I don't want to give too much of a spoiler, but the general idea is that one of the characters is comparing his talents to someone else's. He's lamenting the fact that he's a storyteller, a talent that he finds less important and fascinating than the talents people have around him. The person he's talking to reminds him that someone needs to be there to pass on the story, and that stories are "in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict." Amen to that.
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on January 3, 2016
Despite all the great things I’d heard and it having been released several years ago, I actually knew very little about the plot. This allowed me to go into The Night Circus with very little expectations which is the best way to start reading a book. It didn’t take long for me to become completely immersed within this magical world as the first chapters completely hooked me and reeled me in. The story takes place in the beginning of the 20th century and follows the lives of two very different illusionists, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair. Each is being trained by master magicians, Celia by her father and Marco by a mysterious man who rescued him from an orphanage. They both know that one day their skills will be put to the ultimate test and they’ll square off to compete against each other but neither of them knows what they’re really playing for.

I really loved these beginning chapters where we see Celia and Marco grow up in such different environments and honing their skills with such different results, I found it fascinating and heart-wrenching. Soon, a unique and eccentric team of people come together to create and build Le Cirque de Reves, a black-and-white themed circus full of acrobats, illusionists, fortune tellers, clockwork pieces and strange exhibitions that dare to defy imagination. Within the walls of Le Cirque de Reves Celia and Marco’s competition begins; they’ve trained all their lives but what happens when they not only discover the end-game but also fall in love?

Erin Morgenstern’s writing style is fresh and unique and her world building and characters are complex and fully developed. She has created a tale full of intriguing fantasy and fascinating characters that all come together under the black-and-white striped tents each night. Her descriptions of the circus itself are really the highlight of this book and it becomes its own character which I fell in love with! There were just a few instances where I wished Morgenstern would have gone a little darker with her storyline but this was just my opinion as I like darker stories. The Night Circus is a book I would have loved to read with my book club and I would highly recommend this to all readers!
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on January 12, 2017
SPOILER FREE! Just wow. I love this book. It made me feel a spectrum of emotions, from anger at Celia's father and Bailey's sister, to wonder at the descriptions of the Circus of Dreams, to irritation with Isobel, to sadness at certain parts between Marco and Celia to happiness throughout. I found that I had a hard time putting this book down. The world building is stellar and I loved the characters (even the ones you hate were well-written thus why they're hated) and the story-telling is well, magical. I am hoping Erin Morgenstern publishes more books because I would love to read them!
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on May 26, 2015
Going along with the feel of the circus, I do hope that I can make justice with what I write. If you want to read something that will keep you glued to the pages, the I suggest you read this book. This is the second time I have read this book, the last time being about three years ago, and it still has lived up to the wonderful expectations I have come to love. There are few things in this world that seem to keep readers hooked, such as this novel. Skipping over such real characters, emotions and the feeling of the circus itself would be a shame. My suggestion to you whoever you are reading my review is to one: pay attention to the dates given to you at the beginning of the chapters, and two: read the book in the evening, night or early morning in which you get a feel for the time this book is centered around and you also get a fuller scope of being enraptured with the story that you might not get due to the constant distractions we face during the daylight hours. I do hope that Ms. Morgenstern writes more since she has a snack for the realness of the written word.
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on March 29, 2016
This book was really incredible! It's about two illusionists, who are involuntarily pitted against each other in a game to see which is the better of the two, as taught by their guardians, who are two old rivals. They compete by demonstrating their separate skills at a unique circus that's only open during night hours.

I love that each chapter of this book swaps around from the perspectives of several different characters (including a perspective where the reader is a character). What's more interesting, is that each chapter also features a different time period jumping both forward and backward in time between a 30ish year interval. It's a tiny challenge to grasp at first, and there are moments when the story tricks you a little bit, but once you reach a few chapters in, it's much clearer and a lot of fun to read.

Some reviews say that the story is long and too detailed, however I think that's part of the beauty of the story. The detail is so important because the main characters are in fact illusionists.

The romantic side of the story was also really sweet and realistically done. The two main characters are drawn to each other, but not in a way that's overly sudden, blatantly inauthentic or dramatic.

I definitely recommend reading this book, if you don't mind the length!
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