Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”

*Small disclaimer before you read: I am in no way trying to discourage anyone from reading this book, nor am I trying to claim that people that have read the book shouldn’t enjoy it. I am merely sharing my opinion on the novel, despite it being one that isn’t shared by many!*

The Night Circus is a widely loved book, and I truly wish I shared that sentiment. This is a book that’s blurb promised a lot, a lot of which it unfortunately failed to live up to. The promise that ‘a fierce competition is underway’ and that this would be a ‘remarkable battle of imagination and will’ created expectations which were perhaps too high. While this is an intriguing and beautiful concept, I personally felt that the execution was lacking for a range of reasons, which is really unfortunate as I really really wanted to love this book.

There is no denying that the prose Morgenstern uses is absolutely beautiful, and it is this prose that allows her to create a rich and beautiful setting for her story to take place in. The problem I encountered was that so much focus was placed upon this descriptive writing that the novel became completely unbalanced, with the plot and character development almost seeming to take a backseat. Without this drive in the plot and character development it became hard for me to connect with the book, and this was only emphasized by the decision to use a present- tense third person narrative which made the whole thing feel very distant. It seemed as if a lot of emphasis was placed upon establishing a certain mood, and while Morgenstern did achieve this I feel that it would’ve benefited from a solid backing of other aspects of the novel.

The lack of character development was an issue for me as it eventually led to the creation of a romance that I failed to be interested or invested in. I felt that the romance was added merely because it was convenient to and complimented the eventual outcome, which could explain the insta- love that I felt took place. This sudden relationship felt to me like a classic example of the way the author decides to tell instead of show, especially since Celia and Marco are frequently seen to declare their love in dialogue without this supposed love being reflected in their actions. I was very disappointed in the bland nature of this relationship, especially since it was promised that we would be reading about a ‘deep, magical love’.

Expanding upon this, I felt that the lack of urgency regarding the plot only made it more difficult to connect to any of the characters. In her focus upon the setting, the author seemed to neglect proper explanation of some of the plot points and this made it difficult at times to understand the motivations of her characters, particularly those of Celia and Marco. The plot was also a slow one, and while I have no problem with a purposefully slow moving plot that aids the development of other aspects of the story, I felt that this isn’t what was being achieved here. This was worsened by the structure of the novel, which i thought was unnecessarily fractured which only caused confusion and stripped away any sense of urgency that could’ve developed.

Overall, I feel that this novel had a brilliant concept but underachieved in its execution. Perhaps this novel would’ve benefited from a shift in focus, with more time being taken to explore the characters and their history and the ways their magic worked, which would have subsequently allowed for more focus to be placed upon the plot. I’m disappointed that this novel wasn’t for me, but despite this I would not discourage others from reading it (especially since I know that so many other people loved it!)

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern”

  1. “The lack of character development was an issue for me as it eventually led to the creation of a romance that I failed to be interested or invested in. I felt that the romance was added merely because it was convenient to and complimented the eventual outcome, which could explain the insta- love that I felt took place. ”

    This sums up the story for me as well. The beginning was fine, the way Morgenstern tried to reel in the readers. The romance was forced and changed the flow of the narrative. Or maybe it was the way it way interjected into the narrative. Just like you, I am on the minority on this book. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this book. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it as much as other readers, but I can understand your reasons why. I guess “The Night Circus” is one of those books you either like or don’t. I’m always careful with recommending it to other readers because I’m aware of it’s issues and therefore don’t recommend it to everyone. XD This said: Great review! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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