Thursday, October 20, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Written by: Erin Morgenstern
Published: September 13, 2011 by Doubleday (Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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 RĂªves, 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.

I am kind of nervous about writing this review. I know so many people who just love this book so much. And I get, I totally do, it was really good. But I think that the hype monster may have gotten the best of me here. Because while it was a good read, it didn't blow me away like I was expecting.

One thing I did love about this book was the plot. I did not expect to say that a few days ago though. But this is a book that is very intricately plotted. There are a lot of moving parts here and multiple storylines that felt independent and connected at the same time. It's not until very late into the book that all the cards fall into place that you see exactly where things are going and how it is all connecting. And honestly, I liked that. When it finally got to the real meat of the story I was totally hooked and needed to know what was going to happen. It really built to a thrilling and engaging ending that definitely had a few surprises in store. In the end, I did like the way it all unfolded.

But that being said, the pacing here was really slow here. Because there is a lot going on with the plot it was sometimes confusing and jarring to go back and forth between perspectives. I think that format slowed the pacing down for me. I would have to reconnect with a storyline and sometimes I wasn't able to. On top of that the nature of the plot development meant that it also took it's sweet time getting to the good stuff. There were periods where I was so confused as to where it was going that I spaced out a little bit and lost focus on the book. And that's never a good thing. In the end it did always pull me back but along the way it was a slow and sometimes bumpy ride.

I think what really drew me in to the book every time was the world. Oh wow, the world of this book is so fascinating and magical. For one thing you have the circus. The circus is explained in lush and beautiful detail. You can perfectly imagine the tents, the illusions, and the characters interacting with it all. But the circus was only the beginning. The magic then takes over and brings things to the next level. It's a low fantasy kind of magic with never specified rules but it was used in such a fantastic way that It somehow worked. It was kind of felt unexplainable in a way that almost grounded it in reality. I really enjoyed the world and it's what kept me reading here (well that and a desire to find out how it was all connected).

The characters too were interesting but I think that was one of the aspects of the story that I didn't love. Because there was a lot going on with the plot, there was also a lot of characters and perspectives too. It was sometimes hard to keep the characters straight and who knew and interacted with who. This was a case where I think there were too many cooks in the kitchen for me. I liked some storylines more than others and therefore I liked some characters more than others. And when we got perspectives from characters I wasn't as interested in I found myself wanting to go back to the ones that I did enjoy. In the end the characters were all likable and engaging I just think a more narrowed focus would have added a bit of mystery and helped me connect a little more.

But on the whole, this was a really great read. I ended up listening to the audiobook which is narrated by Jim Dale and he did a fantastic job. He perfectly captured the atmosphere of the book and the setting and the magic really came alive with his narration. I've listened to him narrate the Harry Potter books and he has a great way with this low fantasy. Although I do think sometimes his characters sound very similar making it hard to keep them straight, which may have affected my thoughts on the characters.

The Night Circus is a great atmospheric fantasy with a fascinating world and an intricately plotted story. I had really high expectations which may have been to my detriment but I did enjoy it.

I give The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If like me you have heard really amazing things about this book and have still yet to read it, it is worth the time. I did enjoy it despite some hiccups. Plus it is the perfect atmospheric fall read if you are looking for something that has some mystery and magic but don't got for horror or supernatural. check out this fantasy.

Have you read The Night Circus? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Great review. I think this book was overhyped for me, too. I liked the writing, but I got bored with the plot. I also had to flip back and look at the chapter headings to remind myself of where in the story’s timeline I was.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I read a few chapters and couldn't stand the slow pacing so I stopped. Haven't touched it since... Oops? haha

  3. I read it so long ago, before all the hype, and I SO LOVED IT! It took me a lil while to get into it, but I simply adored the book and as you said, how everything came together!

  4. Hey there, uh, I'm one of the hypers. I loved this book, tremendously. My husband loved it. He's read it twice. I wonder if your feelings would differ from reading versus audio. I'm only wondering because we had an interesting demographic in my last book club when we tested to see who loved the latest book we read (The Lost Girls) and if they read it or listened to it. All of the readers loved it, all of the listeners hated it. It was a pretty cool test we did.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

  5. Such an overhyped book! ahaha But I'm still planning on reading it, because I absolutely fell in love with the cover and the plot the first time I heard about it <3 Plus, for some reason I just love circuses, and this story sounds very magical!!!! Loved the review, Cassi!!!