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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

BOOK review
Started on: 25.June.2014
Finished on: 4.July.2014

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title : The Night Circus
Author : Erin Morgenstern
Publisher : Vintage
Pages : 490 Pages
Year of Publication : 2012
Price : $ 10.76 (

Rating: 4/5
“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.
Le Cirque des Rêves, The Circus of Dreams, is different than any others - an extraordinary circus that constantly moves from one place to another; it might appear one day, and leave without notice. It opens at nightfall and closes at dawn; the attractions inside the circus are so exceptional - which intrigues a lot of people and even gained a group of devoted fans who call themselves rêveurs - dreamers. People believe that the illusionist who can transforms a jacket into a raven and the fortune teller who reads the future are just skillful tricks. However, there's a whole lot of things happening behind the circus and everything magical in it is not merely a trick.

"Secrets have powers... And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours."
It all began years ago, when a magician named Hector Bowen - or better known as Prospero the Enchanter - was reunited with his daughter Celia Bowen. He realizes her natural talent of working magic with her mind, and Hector propose a challenge to Alexander, who then also look for his own student. He chose a boy called Marco Alisdair from the orphanage; and for years he studied and prepared for a challenge he does not understand. Years later, Marco worked under the originator of the circus, Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre. When Celia auditioned as an illusionist for the circus, that is when Marco saw her for the first time - and knew that she is his opponent.

The circus has become the venue for their challenge. Celia is there as an illusionist who makes real transformations and she added tents with her touch of magic as part of challenging her opponent. On the contrary, Marco works from outside the circus and connected to it through a magical bonfire that he made. Years went by and they still don't know the objective of the challenge or how to determine the winner. However, when Celia finally discovered that Marco is her opponent, things started to change. They fell in love with each other, but things will not be easy for them.
"The night you kissed me. I thought it that night. I didn't want to play anymore, I only wanted to be with you. I thought I would ask you to run away with me and I meant it. The very moment I convinced myself that we could manage it, I was in so much pain I could barely stand."
They wanted the pointless game to end. But Celia found out that the game must continue until one person is unable to continue - which means death for one of them. And so Celia tried to think of a way to save them both, and also to save the circus. She will do anything, even if it means sacrificing her own life.

image source: here. edited by me.
Honestly speaking, this book is not so easy to review - and I had a difficult time writing the plot summary above. There's so many things going on in the story; and my plot summary is probably only the tip of the iceberg, because I'm just writing the plot roughly. I really want to love this book more than I actually do, because from start to finish this book is so magical and dreamy - as if it took me to a different world full of imagination. Not to mention, the writing is indeed very beautiful. However, I wasn't able to engage with the story, and it was slightly confusing in the beginning because I have no idea where the story's going. But nevertheless, it was still pretty enjoyable and I am totally absorbed in the magical world of The Circus of Dreams.

The story is set in the 1800s towards 1900s, and is written in third-person POV. Beginning the story by introducing Celia and Marco who was chosen to be each other's opponent. The first-half of the book is dedicated to making the circus and how it became something phenomenal and loved by so many people. However, in between of this story there's a separate story about a boy named Bailey - who I didn't get to mention in the plot summary earlier, but actually plays an important part in the story. I think I get more excited in the second half of the story when Celia and Marco finally fell in love with each other - which makes everything much more complicated. The romance made me sympathize to both main characters, knowing the dilemma they're facing because of the pointless challenge they're involved in. At that point, I'm extremely curious about what's going to happen to both of them; because for the challenge to end, one of them has to die. Widget and Poppet (the twins who are born in the circus) also plays a huge part in the story, because they also have magical powers. Widget is able to read people's past, while Poppet can read the future in the stars. But I won't get into much detail to avoid any more spoilers than I already gave in this review. I think the ending that involves Widget wraps the story beautifully, although I was hoping for just a little bit more.
"There may be decisions to make and surprises in store. Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that."

Even though I'm not fully satisfied with the plot and the flow of the story, there are some things that I really love from the book:
  • First, it has to Friedrick Thiessen's clock! Just by reading the description of the clock he made for the circus, I am absolutely amazed and would love to see a real version of it! It's just so dreamlike, and I think it represents the circus perfectly.
"At the center, where a cuckoo bird would live in a more traditional timepiece, is the juggler. Dressed in harlequin style with a grey mask, he juggles shiny silver balls that correspond to each hour. As the clock chimes, another ball joins the rest until at midnight he juggles twelve balls in a complex pattern.
After midnight the clock begins once more to fold in upon itself. The face lightens and the clouds return. The number of juggled balls decreases until the juggler himself vanishes.
By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream."
  • The Illusionist attraction in the circus, which involves Celia Bowen, is probably one of my most favorite tents. Again, the description made everything sounds so magical. How she begin the show by making the exit door vanish, and started transforming objects to the point where audience are wondering if they're just illusion or real magic. I would totally want to experience that.
  • The Carousel, which was a collaboration work between Celia Bowen and Ethan Barris - an architect for the circus. Celia wanted to create a new tent, but she wanted something magical to appear mechanical. This one is also one of the things I'd like to see from the circus.
"Mr. Barris creates impressive mechanics, but this is not his doing. Though she's embellished his carousel, I'm certain of that. I doubt even an engineer of Mr. Barris's talent can make a painted wooden gryphon breathe. That tree is rooted in the ground, it is a living tree even if it does not have leaves."
I read some articles that said this book is going to be adapted into a movie, which I think is amazing! Because as I was reading, I kept imagining how dreamy and magical the movie adaptation will be. I think the movie adaptation is still in progress, and it won't come out some time soon. I will post more updates if the movie adaptation is really going to happen. But yeah, I'm super thrilled and excited for the movie adaptation!

Overall, even though it took me more than a week to finish this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I've said earlier, everything about this book is so magical and dreamy - which made me feel as if I'm in a different world. I would definitely try to read Erin Morgenstern's work again if she published a new book, because she writes this book so beautifully :))
"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."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .


  1. jujur, buku ini kaya detil dan deskripsi, diksinya juga puitis dan indah tapi miskin cerita.

    1. Kok bisa. emang yg diketengahkan cerita apaan sih?

  2. Wah, nggak ngerti reviewnya. pake bahasa inggris sih...

  3. sounds like an awesome circus to hang out to, I would definitely go if there's any hihi let's go together :DD and yayyyy for the movie adaptation! it'd be awesome ;)) thanks for the beautiful review, dear ♥

  4. The writing was beautiful, the story unique, the characters riveting. I did not want to put the book down! Yes, the author hops back and forth in time, but seriously, the chapters are dated and you can follow the story line with very little effort. I marvel at the creativity of this author; the book was a masterpiece!


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