Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The incredible imaginations of the authors who write fantasy amaze me, but this genre isn’t always my cup of tea. The Night Circus is a beautifully written book, but almost nothing happens between the first and FIVE HUNDREDTH page of the book. I felt bamboozled by the blurb and I know this book is popular, but I won’t be rating it as high as most readers did.

Book: The Night Circus (paperback) | Genre: Fantasy | Page count: 512 | Published: Sept 13, 2011 Anchor Canada (Random House)


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.

My Thoughts

The Good

I was really intrigued by the beginning of this book. There was so much mystery and the plot was moving at a medium pace that kept me turning the pages. I felt like I was under a spell and I couldn’t get enough of the magical atmosphere. I was dying to know more about the so-called challenge that would take place. And that’s where things went downhill.

The Bad

The challenge was a big fat disappointment. I pictured an arena-like duel, with judges, a scoring system, and a clear winner or loser, although I expected Celia and Marco to find a loophole for that part. It was nothing of the sort.

It’s not a huge problem for me, but when magic has no limits, ironically it becomes less impressive. Celia and Marco were almost completely unrestricted with what they could do and I wished that they faced tougher obstacles.

On another note, the romance also let me down. Celia and Marco’s interactions were cute, but they spent so little time together that the power of their love wasn’t believable.

The Ugly

The story was crowded with too many characters. Celia, Tsukiko, and the Burgess twins were the most compelling. Other than that, I wouldn’t have minded if Poppet, Widget, Bailey, and Isobel didn’t exist, and that still leaves at least five additional characters!

I started to lose interest about 75% of the way through and only became more bored from there until the end. There didn’t seem to be a reason for several of the events taking place and the ending was pretty underwhelming.

Also, I have to ask this, if the book ends in the year 1902, why is there an email address on the business card for the circus?!


I wasn’t the right reader for this book, but a part of me can understand why people liked it so much. The writing style and imagery were the highlights for sure, but those elements didn’t compensate for the plot’s lack of action, rationale, or clarity. The Night Circus started out as a 4 star read, but my final rating is 3 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read this book? Did you like it? How do you feel about magic that has no limits?

12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern”

  1. I agree with this review a lot. It is VERY slow. I listened to the audiobook and felt like it took FOREVER. If you like the concept and vibe then Where Dreams Descend is similar. But it’s shorter and a duology. The second book hasn’t come out yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never picked this book up yet but just hearing nothing happens for a large chunk of the book makes me 😬. My attention span is so short sometimes, I don’t know if I’d make it haha. The e-mail thing had me giggling. Why is that in there for a 1902 time frame? 😭


    1. I love reading the 5 star reviews and the 1 star reviews on Goodreads after I finish a book like this. It’s definitely hit or miss. Honestly the only thing I’m going to remember about this book when I look back is the email slip up 😂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s