Even though I finished The Night Circus two weeks ago, I still am having a lot of feelings, and I doubt that this review will be very comprehensive. It’s one of those books that is just too magical for reviewing.
I feel like this book has been on my TBR forever, and when it came in the mail last month, I was quite excited to finally read it!
Recently, I decided to subscribe to receive a monthly book from Mr. B.’s Emporium of Books, because I really do love receiving book boxes, but the truth is that I don’t really read by ‘genre’, and the overwhelming majority of book subscriptions make you choose that way. E.g., I do read a lot of YA, but I don’t usually care for contemporary, angsty YA – I prefer fantasy/sci-fi YA instead. But subscribing to a YA book box means I end up with contemporary YA, which is alright, but not really something I seek out. (It’s how I ended up reading that book with the one-armed black skater boy hero a while back.) All that to say, with Mr. B’s you actually fill out a (lengthy) survey about the books you like (and don’t), and I thought it would be fun to see if they managed to send books I enjoy – and The Night Circus was the first one I received!
This book was… gah, it was just plain magical. Despite the fact that it involved a lot of ingredients I don’t usually like, I was completely and totally engrossed and did not want to put this book down. As a general rule, I do not like present-tense narratives and I do not like books that rely on a dated header to tell you where you are in the story (e.g., ‘Associates and Conspirators – London, February 1885’), but this book used both and it only added to the magic.
The descriptions in The Night Circus were amazing. I absolutely loved hearing about the different displays/acts in the circus. Morgenstern created a definitive sense of place – the circus became its own character in the story, and it was amazing. The introduction chapters written in second person should have been annoying, but instead were brilliant. I was drawn into the story immediately by this method, as I stood waiting in line for the circus to open.
Pacing was excellent – just enough back-and-forth in time to keep the story building in a specific direction without feeling the whiplash of jumping around in time. I fell in love with all the characters, even the ones I didn’t like. The story unfolded with the precision of a perfectly-executed song.
For a while, I was nervous about the ending, but I shouldn’t have been, as that was perfect, also.
There were a few annoyances. A character dies and I didn’t want him to, and Morgenstern has an aggravating tendency to drop French words and phrases throughout without bothering to explain them, even when they are an important part of the story. But these are minor issues with a book that overall captivated me.
I am quite excited to add this book to my collection, and anticipate rereading it again in the (probably near) future. All in all, a 5/5 read for me, and one of those few books that possesses genuine magic on every page.
NB – several reviews caused me to add this book to my list, and I’m not sure I have them all but among them – Stephanie’s Book Reviews, The Literary Sisters, Tales of the Marvelous, and The Penniless Bookworm.