The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern
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.
- 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)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is another unique read. Similarly to The Night Circus, this novel is a master of atmosphere and while the plots aren't too similar, both of them have similar tones. Furthermore, the element of mystery is prominent in both, but in The Night Circus, the mystery is mostly to the reader while in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the main character is learning about these events. In that way, he and Bailey from The Night Circus are similar in that both start as onlookers but eventually realize that they, too, are a part of the events they're curious about and witnessing.
The Magicians is another fantasy novel. However, it is a more classic novel with a climax and a clear conflict, unlike The Night Circus's rather vague competition. This novel also won the same award, the Alex Award in 2010, as The Night Circus won in 2012. The sections about learning magic are similar to the beginning of The Night Circus, when Celia and Marco were younger and studying from different teachers. Furthermore, both novels also involve romance and go into depth about what different characters are feeling, such as with the main character's emotions in The Magicians and how the different characters in The Night Circus reacted to the extraordinary circus.
Midwinterblood, although having a drastically different premise than The Night Circus, is also told in an odd chronological method and also has heavy focus on romance. While The Night Circus has multiple timelines occurring at the same time until they eventually meet at the climax, in Midwinterblood, the stories are told like separate tales that are told backwards, the most recent told first, (there are also a lot more of them, seven compared to The Night Circus's three) and learning how they relate to each other is part of the climax. Furthermore, in both climaxes, romance plays a key role. Both stories are told in rather unconventional ways and their writing styles stand out among other novels.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Cover of The Magicians. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
Book Cover. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
Digital image. Amazon. Amazon, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
"History of the Circus." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
"How Magicians Trick Us." Thebrainbank. University of Bristol, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.
"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. Food.com, 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.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Midwinterblood Summary." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.