The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern

Written by: Erin Morgenstern

Published by: Doubleday 2011

ISBN: 9780385534635

Genre: Fantasy and Historical Fiction

Awards: Alex Award 2012


A wonderful, enchanting story, The Night Circus is beautifully written and one of the most atmospheric novels I've ever read. As the title implies, the story tells the tale of The Circus of Dreams, an extraordinary circus that only opens at night. The descriptions given help make the circus seem real and truly paint the idea that the circus is much more than it seems. This story is divided into three distinct sections. Two of them take place in different periods of time until they merge, while the third consists of many short interludes that go further in describing the circus. This achronological style is a little difficult to get used to and often leads to confusion, but it really lends itself to the story well. For example, many events that take place in one timeline are foreshadowed in the other. In general, this novel is great at dropping hints throughout the novel. Every character mentioned, no matter how briefly, ends up appearing later on. Seeing as there are so many characters, this is an impressive feat.

While some may find the large cast to be overwhelming, I think it really fitted the narrative. It helped paint the world as real, and all the characters are likable in their own way. All hold their own importance and none of them felt extraneous. I will say, however, that I didn't find Celia and Marco, the two main characters, as enjoyable as the rest of the cast. In fact, I preferred their child versions, which appeared at the beginning of the story, as their adult selves seemed too perfect. On the other hand, Widget and Poppet, two main characters in another timeline, are both incredibly likable and unique and make up for Bailey, the other main character's, rather plain character. Even if some of the main characters felt a little dull, I never actually hated any of them. The plot line is often left vague and sometimes it feels like there isn't really a plot. It always feels intentional, however, and even if the plot twist at the end of the story was a bit predictable, the way it was resolved was wholly unexpected. Especially at the very end, where more about Celia's father and Alexander is revealed, a lot of the details are quickly summarized. While this mystery may seem frustrating to some people, I really enjoyed the mystery of the story. All in all, The Night Circus is one of the most marvelous books I've ever read. With brilliant atmosphere, likable characters, and unique concepts, The Night Circus is a novel that simply must be read.

Additional reviews:

Further Explorations

  • The author's official website (not view able on chromebook)
  • Recipe for how to make chocolate mice, a reoccurring pastry within the story
  • A brief history of the circus throughout the centuries
  • An interview with the author of The Night Circus
  • A link to the Nanowrimo website, which is a writing competition that The Night Circus was originally written in
  • A page that explains what a contortionist is
  • This article explains how tarot cards work and what they are
  • A video that explains how magicians deceive the human mind, though in The Night Circus, the magic that Celia performs is real
  • Page that briefly goes over life in the 1800s
  • The Night Circus official book trailer (not view able on chromebook)
  • Some information from the author about The Night Circus (not view able on chromebook)

Partner Titles

Works Cited

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Book Cover. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

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"History of the Circus." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

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"Interview with Erin Morgenstern." Goodreads. Goodreads, 05 Dec. 2011. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Lee, Nana. "Chocolate-Covered Cherry Mice Recipe." Chocolate-Covered Cherry Mice Recipe., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

"LESSON 1." Lesson 1. LearnTarot, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

"Life in the 1800s." Life in 1800s. The Morse Society, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

"The Magicians Summary & Study Guide." BookRags. BookRags, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Messud, Claire. "The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Review." The Guardian. The Guardian, 23 Sept. 2011. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Morgenstern, Erin. "Erin Morgenstern." Erin Morgenstern. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Morgenstern, Erin. "The Night Circus." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Morgenstern, Erin. "The Night Circus Trailer | Erin Morgenstern." Erin Morgenstern. Erin Morgenstern, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

"National Novel Writing Month." National Novel Writing Month. NanoWrimo, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

"THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern | Kirkus Reviews." Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus, 5 Apr. 2011. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

"The Night Circus." Goodreads. Goodreads, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Opfer, Chris. "How Contortionists Work." HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks, 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Robot Check. Digital image. Robot Check. Amazon, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

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