January 14, 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2011 Random House Audio (Unabridged Edition)
Reader: Jim Dale
Finished 1/4/12
Rating: 4/5 (Terrific!)

Publisher’s Blurb:

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves: Within these black-and-white striped tents lies an utterly unique experience, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, and stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way—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 the players, 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.

But when Celia and Marco innocently tumble headfirst into love, their masters intervene with dangerous consequences.

I wound up with the ARC of The Night Circus last summer, but of course, it was relegated to one of the many stacks in my office. After the novel’s release, I read a few glowing reviews and knew it was something I would eventually read. I’ve been enjoying audio books so much, and as it turned out, I found the audio in my library’s online database, so I promptly added my name to the queue. I figured I’d either get to the ARC or the audio version whenever the mood struck. I was very happy when the audio became available and I was able to start listening right after Thanksgiving. What an outstanding presentation of Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel! Jim Dale (whom readers will recognize from the audio editions of the Harry Potter series) is superb! I was quickly drawn into Celia and Marco’s story, eager to get back to the book every morning, falling deeper and deeper under the spell of this remarkably imaginative tale. Morgenstern’s novel is rich with detail and filled with wonderful characters. I don’t know whose story I loved more—Celia & Marco’s or Poppet, Widget and Bailey’s.

My only complaint with the audio is that the chronology of the book is not linear, and thus I was often confused, unsure if my Nano had skipped a track. I found myself checking the ARC to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter. I’m pretty sure I didn’t, but I do plan to read the book (eventually), now that I’ve finished the audio. It’s very rare that I listen to a book either before or after reading the printed edition, but this was such an outstanding experience, I can’t wait to return to Morgenstern’s world. The Help turned out to be amazing in both formats and I enjoyed the movie just as much. I’m hoping The Night Circus turns out to be another novel that is just as enjoyable in all three mediums. Summit Entertainment (the production company behind the Twilight film franchise) has optioned the film rights and, although I was not impressed with the film version of Twilight, I am still excited about the possibility for a fabulously magical adventure.

SuziQ says:

This was a beautiful, exciting, sad, happy and altogether elegant story. The author created a world in which I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself. I intentionally waited to read it until I had time to read it in just a few sittings. I’m glad I did. This is the kind of book that wraps its setting around you as you read. The imagery is both delicate and strong and always beautiful even in the darker parts of the story. At its heart a love story, the book is about a competition between magicians that takes place within a mysterious circus that seems to appear and disappear and is only open at night. Its storylines weave in and around each other and forward and backward in time in a way that feels almost like a dance. There is a distinct elegance to the writing and the story that takes the reader on a wonderful journey. (Whimpulsive)

Go here to read her complete review.

Andi says:

Beyond the novel's structure, the detail in the writing is just stunning. I felt as if I was experiencing the look and feel of The Night Circus. I could imagine the tents, each of the acts, the bonfire that serves as the heart of the circus, the food on sale to the patrons, the way the various acts dressed and conducted themselves. Hardly ever do I read a novel that makes me feel so thoroughly immersed in the fictional world. (Estella's Revenge)

Go here to read her complete review.

Wendy says:

The Night Circus is a feast for the senses, conjuring up beautiful scenes and luscious scents. It twists and turns and leaves the reader wondering what is real and what is illusion? Morgenstern shifts the narrative back and forth in time, a technique which adds to the unsettled feel of the novel. I will admit that this time shifting felt confusing to me at first. But eventually, I stopped paying attention to the dates, and simply allowed the story to sweep me forward…and it was when I did this that the novel captured me. (Caribousmom)

Go here to read her complete review.

So have I (and my friends) convinced you? This is definitely a winner!

And did I mention the ever-so-wonderful Jim Dale? Here is a sample of him reading from The Night Circus. Close your eyes and listen.

Final thoughts: Enchanting. Magical. Unforgettable.


  1. I am so glad you enjoyed this so much! I really want to listen to it, but my library doesn't have the audio edition.

  2. Great review Lesley! This was one of the few books I read this fall that really stuck with me (& I have to say that I LOVED the Bailey storyline)!

  3. I liked it right up until the ending which I thought fell short from the rest of the book!

  4. A wonderful book, one of my favorites of the year. As I said in my review, The Night Circus itself immediately joined the short list of fictional places I would love to visit. I look forward to more from this author.


  5. I bought this after reading all its praises around the internet. It's still up on my dresser (amongst the stacks, did you say?) but I'm planning on pulling it down soon. So glad to know that you loved it too, which gives it even more validity in my opinion.

    Love the latte in your header, and the quotes on our sidebar. xo

  6. Anonymous4:18 AM

    This is one I plan to read this year. I love Jim Dale. What a gift he has. I haven't been in a mood for an audio book for a while, but the mood will strike again I'm sure.

  7. Yay! I only glanced at this post because I plan on pulling it off my TBR shelf soon. I'm looking forward to it and so happy to see that you thought it was terrific.

  8. Yay!!! I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did, and thanks for sharing a piece of my review! Very sweet of you, Les.

    I've never listened to one of the Potter books as read by Jim Dale, but I ATE UP that youtube clip. I would love to listen to The Night Circus, and that may be how I choose to "re-read" it.

  9. I still can't wait to read the book, but I love the clip of Jim Dale reading!

  10. I've listened to books that confused me like that, too, but it all comes together eventually. This sounds like a winner!

  11. I don't know if this will surprise you :<) but I am reading a book about a circus too - a nonfiction one by Stewart O'Nan, who is fast turning into one of my favorite writers, called The Circus Fire - about the 1944 fire in Hartford, Connecticut.

  12. Kailana - If I could figure out a way to copy my library downloads to discs, I'd send them to you! Jim Dale is awesome!

    Stephanie - Wasn't Bailey's story wonderful?! I wonder if we'll see more of him...

    Staci - I read a couple of reviews that said the same thing as you. I didn't mind the ending. What were you hoping for? Feel free to email me with spoilers. :)

    Lee - Wasn't it great?! It reminded me a bit of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine (which I keep meaning to re-read!). I can't wait to see what Morgenstern comes up with next. Not really holding out hope for a great movie, though. Too bad Dreamworks didn't get the rights...

    Bellezza - READ IT!

    I thought of you when I posted the latte photo in my header. Someday, we'll sip lattes together in Italy.

    Kay - I think this is one you'll really enjoy. If you wind up listening to the audio, don't fret about the chronology. It's a bit wonky! But Jim Dale is so worth the confusion. :)

    Joy - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    Andi - I was hoping you wouldn't mind me pulling a chunk of your review over to my blog. You did such a nice job and I wanted others to see what you had to say. And thanks so much for guiding me to this awesome book! It has a very good chance of landing on my Top Ten for 2012 and look, it's only January 15th. :)

    Isn't that a fun YouTube clip of Jim Dale? I'd love to spend an hour or so watching more clips of him.

    Definitely listen to the audio for your re-read. You'll get even more enjoyment from it, especially the dialogue between Celia and Marco. Sigh.

    Jenclair - Do both! Read it and then listen to the audio. It's worth the time for both.

    Kathy - It's definitely a winner in my book.

    Nan - Nope. Not surprised in the least. :)

    Speaking of Stewart O'Nan, I really want to read Emily Alone. Thanks for the reminder. I'm heading to the library tomorrow, so I'll see if I can get a copy. Did you ever read Last Night at the Lobster? I wasn't that impressed, but I still want to try Emily Alone, based on your great review.

  13. Firsr of all - thank you so much for linking to my review. I loved ths book.

    Secondly I'm so glad you liked it too.

    I have the audio on my ipod and am looking forward ro re-experiencing this wonderfulness as performed by the amazing Jim Dale.

  14. Hi Les, thanks for dropping by my blog and I do imagine you linked to me through Nan? Anyway, I do love discovering blogs like yours. I am married to a writer and love to have access to all these wonderful reference in literature. I will be back!

  15. The nonlinear fashion of the book I think is one of its weaknesses...but despite that, I am glad you still enjoyed it. Thanks, too, for the linky love!

  16. Ha! I'm loving all of your header pictures. I never know what I'll get when I visit. would love to share a coffee (well...the experience, not the actual cup).

    Anyway, I only asked for two books for Christmas and was thrilled that I received them both--Night Circus being one! I probably won't read it for a few more months (slow going these days) but I'll look forward to it.

    I actually enjoy listening to books that I've already read. My mind is always wandering so if I tune out for a few seconds I'm not quite as lost. And yes--The Help was wonderful in all three mediums.

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend Les!

  17. SuziQ - You are so welcome. I always hesitate when adding blurbs from other bloggers, but I'm pretty sure y'all would tell me to stop if you'd rather I didn't.

    I think you'll enjoy the audio now that you've read the book. I kind of wish I had read it first myself, but it will be fun to go back and read the actual words on paper. Just from listening to JD, I know there are some beautiful passages. I loved the image of the boat on a sea of books. Remember that?

    Anangloinquebec - Hello there! Thank you for stopping by. Yes, I found you via Nan's blog. I'm looking forward to following your blog. I was born in Ottawa (1961) and lived in Quebec, but don't remember it at all, as I've been in the States for most of my life. I, too, am married to a writer (and former high school English teacher). Looking forward to getting to know you. :)

    Wendy - I agree. I kept thinking it was probably less confusing in the printed format, but maybe not. I was even considering reading all the blocks of time that take place in the past and then read the blocks that are more current, followed by all the asides about the circus. Might be more work than it's worth, but we'll see when I get to my rereading. :)

    Trish - I'm glad you're enjoying my weekly headers. I'm having fun with this new template and it's a nice way to show-off some of my photography.

    Not a coffee drinker, eh? Well, this little cafe (Cafe Italia) has tea, as well. And delicious scones! Personally, I prefer an American to a Latte, but I had to give it a try. They make such fun designs in the foam!

    I can't wait to hear what you think of The Night Circus. I didn't read any negatives reviews before or after I listened to the book, but I've heard this is one that people either love or hate. I hope you're one of the former.

    I had a great weekend. I'm in my post-holiday organizing mode and having great fun cleaning out closets and cupboards. Nothing like purging my home of clutter to make me a happy camper!

  18. I can't wait to read this. I also bought it after reading so many glowing reviews but haven't had a chance to squeeze it in. Perhaps it will be my next up book...as soon as I finish something else!

  19. Ha! Yes, coffee is an absolute MUST for my day--poor Elle is probably so wired because I wasn't able to kick the habit when I was pregnant. ;) Meant I didn't want to share the actual cup with you. :)

    Wanna come purge my closets? Actually I made good headway on the pantry--baby steps.

  20. Danielle - You definitely need to squeeze this one! It's a fairly quick read, once you get started. Let me know how you like it!

    Trish - I can't imagine not drinking coffee, but I didn't start until I was in my late 20s and I'd already had my daughter, so I didn't have to try to give it up during my pregnancy. Not sure I'd be able to do that (or wine!).

    I still have a full basement to purge and then the garage. You may have to wait a while. ;) Baby steps is where it's at!


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