I went with my family on a cruise to Alaska a while back and found out that cruises are a little boring if you’re not interested in stuffing your face all day long. And it’s a bit of a long ride going from Seattle (our port of departure) to Alaska, so even a week-long cruise means you’re spending a vast majority of the time on the boat. Oh, and the wi-fi was something ridiculous too like $50 a day, and even then the connection is really spotty. Views were fantastic, though.
Anyway, like an idiot, I didn’t bring any reading material with me, so I was stuck relying on the ship’s library to find some way to spend my time. They had this really nice library-slash-bar with these huge glass windows that was bordered on all sides with cozy reading nooks and really comfortable leather pull-out chairs all over place — the only problem was the book selection itself left something to be desired. I did manage to find this and a John Grisham novel or something, so I went with this (obviously), though I had previously read enough reviews to have some idea that it wasn’t something I would have chosen otherwise.
In The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, two magicians are engaged in a rivalry that takes place via their proteges. They each select an apprentice to serve as their proxy, and those students compete by displaying their magical abilities in exhibits at the Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams. This wandering magical circus rises only in the night and appears and disappears at various locations without warning, carrying with it an array of magically-inclined outcasts.
Celia is chosen as the competitor for her father, Prospero the Enchanter. Meanwhile, Mr. A.H. selects Marco, a boy plucked from a London orphanage, to represent him. Very quickly, the two competing apprentices feel an attraction towards each other, knowing full well that they’ve been selected as rivals. The two smitten apprentices are at first blithely unaware of the contests full rules, but in due course Celia and Marco find out that it is not merely a casual competition.
Morgenstern’s world is a dreamy and enchanted one, and the book devotes a lot of time to describing the many beautiful and varied exhibits and displays inside, from the ice garden to the animal menagerie and the magical cloud maze and candle-lit wishing tree and so on, with a cauldron of white flames that resides that the circus’s center and the clock tower that greets visitors at the entrance. The main characters are beautiful and talented and tragic and ever-so-star-crossed lovers.
In short, it’s a cream-puff of a book, replete with empty calories, baked together tenderly with rather lovely and quite capable writing. Everywhere, the stars sparkle and tents glow and candlelight flickers, all nestled in bittersweet romance with magic floating in the air. I think for many people, it’s the type of the thing that would capture their imagination. It’s not a book that asks you to think, it merely wants to take you on a winsome and captivating ride.
Night Circus Movie Adaptation
The Night Circus movie adaptation has been in the works for some time. The rights were originally acquired before the book was even published by Lionsgate. It’s been slow, but the project has been making progress. As of February 2019, it recently found a director.
For all the details, see Everything We Know About the Night Circus Movie Adaptation.
Read It or Skip It?
For a book to kill some time while being whisked alongside glaciers and clear skies on a cruise in Alaska, it more than fulfilled its purpose. I would have a hard time recommending it to be people due to the lack of substance, but I could easily imagine people liking this book. Morgenstern is a good writer for her genre of fantasy-romance; this book was not for me, but anyone who is interested in that type of thing should certainly take a look.
I DNF this book last year when I realized that it didn’t really have much of a storyline. Btw, great review!
fair enough :) and thank you!
Sorry have to disagree with you there. The Night Circus is one of my favourite all time books. 😊 But like you say, it’s not for everyone.
there’s definitely a number of strong points about the books in terms of the writing and imagery, etc. so I can understand why a lot of people love this book! it wasn’t for me but i’m glad I gave it a shot
“In short, it’s a cream-puff of a book, replete with empty calories, baked together tenderly with rather lovely and quite capable writing”. This is brilliant lol. Great review
aww thank you! and thanks for dropping by :)
One of the few fantasy novels that I enjoyed. I do enjoy reading different opinions on the same book.
to be fair, I know I’m in the minority on this one, and I definitely think the book has a number of strong points, it just wasn’t for me
I did think this was a captivating book, but you make an excellent point about there not being much below the surface- I think it explains why I didn’t connect with this as I hoped to. Totally loved how you described this as a creampuff of a book- cos I think that simultaneously explains why so many people love it- but also, yeah, it’s kinda lacking substance. Really great review!
thank you! and yeah I was a little hesitant about the review since I knew sooo many people love this book and there were aspects of it that I enjoyed too — I don’t think a book needs to be perfect to be worth reading, so I’m still glad I read it
You’re welcome! Totally get that- yeah for sure!
Still,I hope you enjoyed the scenery….(and comfortable leather chairs…well☺)
haha yes! it was a great reading nook :)
I like the “empty calories” analogy. If you’re going to do magical realism it helps if you have something to say, otherwise, it’s just a meringue.
This book is beautifully written but it just doesn’t have much of a plot. I am going on a cruise to Alaska this July and I am looking forward to catching up on some reading! =D
Wow! I really enjoyed reading your review of the book. I’ve had The Night Circus on my bookshelf for a while. I’d abandoned the book a while ago and now I’m really wanting to start over once again. Do keep writing.
Great review, might as well read it in the future.
I definitely agree with you regarding the ‘fluffiness’ of the book. I found the book to drag on a fair bit, although I did appreciate the worldbuilding.
Sorry to be a bit late to respond to this, but yes, I totally agree this world was beautiful and vivid! Thanks for dropping by!
I was among those who loved this and it was because of the imagery mostly–and I didn’t see it as fluffy (because that to me spells light and this definitely had darker undertones)
I tried it as well and did not even manage to pass by 50 pages…
haha well at least you tried :) thanks for dropping by!
Interesting! I absolutely adored this book, for pretty much all the reasons you described. But I recommended it to a friend and she DNF’d it, she just couldn’t get it into – I think she would agree with you about a lack of substance. It reminded me in some ways of Chocolat… the dreaminess and magical quality. This is clearly a marmite book though!
oh interesting, I actually adore the movie Chocolat, but I can see how it might feel a little light in terms of substance in its original book form — still sometimes a little dreaminess and magic can be fun. Maybe if the mood ever strikes me, I’ll check that book out! :)
I agree with you about the lack of any real plot substance – the characters really do take the wheel in this novel and I can see why that wouldn’t be too interesting for everyone. Maybe it is because I listened to the audiobook, but I was thoroughly drawn into the relationship as Morgenstern presents it – the plot convenience of the ending, however, is… questionable.
It is with that caveat that I usually recommend the novel; don’t expect anything and you may be quietly surpirsed.
Haha, yeah, I think the ending kind of sealed the deal for me. I think that’s a great point though — if I’d read it when it first came out vs. after seeing everyone say repeatedly that it was their favorite book in the world, there’s a decent chance I would have had a different response. Thanks for dropping by!
I definitely agree with you about the book not having much substance. I dnf’d this book twice. It just wasn’t for me. I was bored.
Creampuffs are so tasty though! :) But I can see where you’re coming from. I read this book a few years ago. I do fancy escapism pieces so I was enamored with it.
Superb analogies. I adore the descriptive style but can appreciate why it wasn’t for you. Hope the cruise got better!
Thank you! The cruise was good and very scenic, it’s just a long time to be on a boat. Thanks for dropping by! :)
When I started reading this book, I didn’t expect to like it but I soon found myself entangled in the marvelous magical web, inspire of myself. Your reviewe is simply delightful. Absolutely love your writing style.
Thank you so much for the kind words!