The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

November 5, 2020 Book Reviews 7 ★★★★★

The Night Circus, by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Jim Dale
on September 13, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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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.

The circus arrives without warning.

The Night Circus tells the tale of two young magicians, irrevocably bound by their teachers to a competition of creativity and skill—one in which they know neither the rules nor how they will be judged. Le Cirque des Rêves (the Circus of Dreams) is their dueling field, as magical as the book itself.

The story unfolds in a leisurely, dreamlike pace. The chapters wander back in forth through time, but the narrative remains always in present tense, switching from one character’s third-person perspective to another. Vignettes in second-person give you the sense that you yourself are exploring the circus, visiting one tent of marvels after another. Celia and Marcus, the two magicians, are the protagonists, but other characters sometimes take center stage, particularly Bailey, who falls in love with the Cirque des Rêves as a boy, and Poppet, who is born on its opening day and comes of age within it. You become familiar also with the small group of creative people who design the circus, a coterie of friends inextricably bound by their common purpose and their love for the Cirque des Rêves.

And always, always, there is the magic. It weaves delicately through every chapter like a silken thread, sometimes almost hidden in the mundane, sometimes gleaming in the light, so much a part of every aspect of the circus and the tale that magic and reality become inseparable, like opposite sides of the same fabric.

Atmospheric, lyrical, and beautifully written, this book will haunt you long after you have finished it.

Audio narration: Jim Dale narrates the audiobook with great skill and sensitivity, employing the wide range of voices and accents for which he is famous. I highly recommend listening to it.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobook Challenge 2020

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