Year Published: 2011 - by Doubleday.
Genres: Fantasy / romance / historical fiction
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 perÂformers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
I was so excited to start this book. It looked gorgeously sensual and atmospheric, and the idea of a forbidden romance against the mystic backdrop of a mysterious circus sounded incredible.
I was so, so disappointed.
It was boring. Extremely boring. The only reason I kept reading was because I needed to know the secret of the circus. Morgenstern boiled it down to asking a question and making her readers wait for the answer, but however clever that was, it did make the build-up extremely tedious and difficult to get through. I was led along somewhat unwillingly, victim of my own curiosity.
The atmosphere was beautiful. It was chilling and foreboding, and that added to the "keep reading for the climax" that prompted me forward. It begged for answers, and I slogged on thanks to the foreboding unanswered mysteries that slowly seeped through the story.
It was very description heavy. And while that's perfect for some readers, it was a bit too much for me. But there were some gorgeous descriptions that I loved; especially of the food, which made my mouth water - those were fantastic. I also loved the scenes near the end where Marcus and Celia are drifting in and out of illusions; those scenes were absolutely gorgeous and atmospheric, and I loved them.
Morgenstern's imagination is excellent, and some scenes near the end were just pure genius.
My main issue with this book was the characters. They were just so flat, flat, FLAT; painfully flat and boring. They all sounded the same, and as hard as I tried to think about it, no one had a clearly defined personality that I could say, for example: "she wouldn't do that; she's too shy." There was none of that understanding; I had nothing to go on. And because the characters were so flat and boring, it was impossible to connect with them or sympathise with them. I felt nothing for anyone.
I also didn't get the romance. Marcus already had a girlfriend, and his relationship with Celia was hugely "insta" and unrealistic. There was no chemistry between them, and it felt flat and forced.
The time changes were painfully confusing and difficult to place. The book flashes between two time periods, and it became increasingly frustrating to work out who and what belonged in which.
But on a positive note, the idea behind the circus and its existence was excellent. I didn't see it coming, and it was the perfect mix of personal and atmospheric.
The Night Circus had a brilliant backbone and some lovely atmospheric descriptions, but its characters were agonisingly flat and the majority of the novel was excruciatingly boring.