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Book Review: Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Spec Spot

What's it about?

Two men with extraordinary abilities choose to compete in a duel of sorts by positioning two of their students (one each) against each other in a battle with few vague rules. Over a number of years, the students grow and learn until both, in their own ways, becoming connected to a circus that appears only at night without warning; a circus that is only open at night and dazzles with marvelous experiences so intoxicating that it warrants it's own fan club complete with groupies of sorts.

But no one person survives alone and no one person never asks questions. As the years pass the two find themselves feeling something almost forbidden to be felt for their opponents while engaging in lives unlike any others and forging relationships to overcome ages as they struggle to survive a life full of mystery.


Favorite Character: Poppet. I'm not even sure I can tell you what it is about this young girl that stole my heart. Maybe it was the hair ( I like red hair), or how sweet she was. Maybe it's her role in the conclusion. I can't say for sure, but I did really like her. Alot. I kinda want to be her friend. Can anyone let her know next time you go to the circus?

Least Favorite Character: Mr. Bowen or Prospero the Enchanter. There were a few people I just really didn't like much, but I think he's made his way to the top of my list. Mr. Bowen is a self absorbed, stubborn, egotistical narcissist. Sure, the guy in the grey suit is no gem, either, but Mr. Bowen initiated the "game", putting his daughter's well being on the line, knowing the risks and proceeded to keep her in the dark for years and years. On top of that, he didn't even treat her like a human being of value. All because he was determined to be best in the room, even if he wasn't. Ugh!

Favorite Part: I think my favorite parts are when Bailey (one of the young characters we get to follow around for parts of the story) is exploring the circus. Or maybe it's just anytime we're in the circus. I'm not sure but I adored the circus. It's one like no other with multiple tents creating a labyrinth of sorts, each created and highlighting something extradentary and, in some cases, seemingly impossible. It's mysterious, magical and almost intoxicating. You never know what you're going to find when you open a door or turn the corner. And the clock! OMG!I need a clock maker to make me clocks like in this story! (Know any awesome clock makers with a little bit of magic of their own?) Of course, these are also the parts that usually have Poppet and her twin brother widget (who has an amazing moment towards the end that left me cheering) so that might be a part of it, too.

Least Favorite Part: I think the beginning. Of course some of that has to do with the heavy presence of Mr. Bowen but I think it's just a different setting, a different feel and we haven't met many the collection of interesting and mysterious characters or the circus. Somehow, it feels darker and slower, though the story as a whole isn't about moving forward at a fast pace, but the the whimsy of the journey and the actual journey. I feel like once Mr. Chandresh Lefevre enters, things start to get a little more interesting and mysterious.

Favorite quotes: "Stories have changed, my dear boy," the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. "There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister's story is part of many other stories and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with it's pray." (pg. 377) There were so many things in here that I just loved, but I think, over all, this kind of lends as a poetic metaphor for growing up and growing older. Things change. The more we know, the less seems clear. We all have stories and we all fancy ourselves the hero of our stories, while someone else's version may feature us as the villain. Things aren't simple and our lives and stories effect others and theirs ours.

"It is important," the man in the grey suit interrupts. "Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and ever ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do becuase of it, becuase of your words. That is your role. That is your gift..." (pg. 381) A love letter to writers. Also, it's why it's important we share our stories. You never know who needs to hear it.

Other Thoughts:

I'll admit, I delve into this book because so many people were raving about it and I wanted to know why. I didn't have much as far as expectations, but I will say, this was no where near what I expected.

I read the blurb and thought that it almost sounded like a magical Hunger Games. Not at all! There's little violence in it. The game is played through beautiful magic, often the result of Celia and Marco creating for the other, not to out do the other. I didn't expect the circus to be less of a setting and more of a character of it's own. I didn't expect to find a story was so much fun to journey through, that I forgot to be overly invested in the ending until I was there. I was just invested in that moment in the story that I was experiencing. And I didn't expect a writing style that felt just as different and unique as the circus it told of. And yet, I found it all.

I'm not sure I'll ever read this one again, partially because unless I wait years until I don't remember the story clearly, I don't think it can have the same captivating effect on me in a re-read as in the first read, partially becuase part of the magic was knowing that the limits didn't exists and anything was possible. Now I know what lays underneath the black and white tents. I know how it ends. I know who the heroes. BUT, I absolutely loved my nightly visits to the circus while I got to know the extraordinary people behind it.


I give this book a


out of

10 wishing trees

But, that's just what I thought. What did you think? Who did you fall in love with? Or were you disappointed in the book? Let us know in the comments.

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