Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. To give you some background, this novel debuted about two years ago, is a #1 national bestseller and MANY people CHERISH, ADORE, PRAISE and LOVE IT. I really expected to feel the same way! However, my love for it is a little bittersweet. I love and adore certain aspects of it, but unfortunately not in total. Let me explain.  

Erin Morgenstern gets an A+ for imagination, fantasy, visualization, details and description.That is her strength and The Night Circus is loaded with it. It's dreamy. It's magical. It's whimsical. It's fantasy. I live for that kind of stuff! Her descriptive imagery makes you feel like you're floating on cloud nine and it can also leave you feeling horrified. She's excellent at doing both. I give her two thumbs UP for that.

While reading the story, you encounter rings that burn into one's skin, a pocket-knife that slits open a character's fingertips, a glass paperweight striking & smashing one's wrist, a dagger plunging into the back of a character's hand, books that fly around a room like birds, fanciful midnight dinners, confectionery cakes & desserts, miniature chocolate leopards and even exotic musicians. Morgenstern's gift for imagery is superb and I think THAT is what captivates SO MANY that read this book! So far, so good right? Craving more? She gives it to you!

Morgenstern does a fantastic job welcoming readers to Le Cirque des Reves! Her description of it is brilliant. It's a circus that opens only at night. Black & white tents are decorated with beautiful twinkling lights. It showcases acts and performers from different countries & continents. Circus concession stands serve chocolate shaped mice, with almond ears and licorice tails. As a dreamer and foodie, I love this!


There's also an enchanting clock in which clouds float across, expanding & contracting like a puzzle, has twinkling stars, flowers, planets and books in which pages turn.

The same clock also boasts a dragon, a distressed princess awaiting her prince, teapots & teacups, presents that open, cats chasing dogs, a game of chess and a juggler that juggles silver balls for whatever hour it is.

OK...THAT'S A LOT OF DESCRIPTION! Even for me. HaHaHa I LOVE details, but as you read this book the details start to become quite excessive. To the point, where it breaks the dreaminess of it. Seriously, I can't picture a clock with ALL of that stuff on it (it literally has everything but the kitchen sink on it! HaHaHa). All of this whimsical awe and wonder hits you in the first one hundred and twenty-eight pages of the book. So up to this point, this is what's FABULOUS about the book.

Where Morgenstern falters, is in the development of the actual story. The beginning of the story is strong. The ending is there. The problem seems to be in the middle, connecting the two. It's choppy, fragmented and seems to be pieced together. It doesn't have a smooth rhythm or flow. To me, a good story should read with ease from beginning to end. I remember Michael Jackson, saying in his 'This Is It' concert, to let a song 'simmer'. Same thing for a writer of a book. Put the proper ingredients together. Let them come together. Let them simmer. Let them cook. This book is a little over five hundred pages and honestly a good two hundred pages could've been cut. There's also a plethora of characters! Morgenstern goes into such detail about each one, that the story often becomes disconnected. I understand each character has a role in the story, but to talk extensively about EACH really doesn't serve a purpose.

Would you like to know the story? A selfish bet is made on two children, Celia and Marco. Their guardians bind them to this bet. They are suppose to compete and duel. It has been decided the circus will be their backdrop, along with MANY other characters. They spend their childhood and adulthood training to the best of their ability. Throughout the book, they constantly ask their guardians what the rules of the competition are. It never seems clear to them, except there are no rules when it comes to LOVE. They discover one another. They fall in love. They decide they don't want to compete. One must win. One must die. They find a loophole and a way to stay together. The End! Simple story that was made way too complex (with a plethora of other characters & situations) in my opinion. 

I found an interview with Morgenstern on the web. She states book agents had her restructure her original story (interestingly enough, it didn't have a plot) and that the competition (duel) part was "added" (source). I think the dueling (competition) was awkward in the book. I blame Morgenstern's book agents for that. There could've been so many more interesting plots for this story. In the future, I hope these agents don't interfere with Morgenstern's work and allow her to come up with her own plot (because everything else was magical about the book...which was ALL HER). After all of my fussing, deciphering and bickering about this book. I reluctantly give it a SWEET rating! It's more on the brink of BITTERSWEET, however that rating seems overall a little too harsh. Morgenstern, your illustrious imagination pulled you to a SWEET rating doll :)

Sweet-Bittersweet-NotSweet
supersweet(run & buy it) sweet(really good,buy it) bittersweet(ok, issues) not sweet(not good,don't buy this stuff)
  The Night Circus is Sweet 

My Final Thoughts: The movie will be better than the book, IF an amazing director is hired AND he or she is given a HUGE BUDGET to make all of these marvelous and magical things happen. I WANT IT TO HAPPEN!!! I want it to be magical! To construct this, the way Morgenstern has laid it out in the book will take MONEY!!! The story is extremely limited, however the imagery is not. So the screenwriter and director will have AMPLE room to add and delete whatever they choose (there's plenty of room for it). The movie (if they ever decide to make it) could be SPECTACULAR. The marketing and promotional items for this could be OUT OF THIS WORLD! I want a chocolate mouse!!! So start putting together your black & white striped attire! Grab a red scarf! I'll have my red scarf ready (i'm a reveur...FAN of the circus and follows it) and fingers & toes crossed when it comes to the big screen that it's SPECTACULAR.
 
*all pictures used in this post were taken from Pinterest. Have a magical day everybody :)

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

Susannah said...

It sounds like there was a lot of potential there. Fancy the book agents adding that whole Hunger Games aspect. I don't like the sound of that. It does sound like some serious editing needs to be done. I'm afraid I probably would have given up reading with all the extra detail about the characters, steering away from the main plot. Looks like a good author to watch out for in the future. I wonder what you'll read next Kim :D sparkle2day.com

Mica T said...

Shame it didn't have a great story to back it up, as it does sound like a great book you could get lost in for hours! :)

I'm trying to get back into reading more often, have asked for a few books for Christmas. But this won't be one, I need a good story to keep the pages turning, haha!

Away From The Blue

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Shame it was tittering. I have picked up this book a few times thinking to buy it, but something always made me leave it there. Maybe when my oldest is off school for holidays, I'll sit down and read it. Shame it looses it a bit in the middle. Happy Thursday doll - almost the weekend, yes yes!! xx

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Thanks for the review Kim! The book sounds really fun and I love an author that truly creates another world with beautiful imagery - I wish I was that creative. It'a unfortunate that there isn't much to the plot, but like you said, it would probably make a good movie!

xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living

Emmylou said...

One of the most honest reviews I've read on this book, Kim. Great job:) My sister who' read this had the same opinion. She liked the book, but she did think it got bogged down with too many characters.
LOL on the clock description...heehee...
Anyhoo, this is on my TBR list on my e-reader so hopefully will get to read it soon.

Emmylou said...

One of the most honest reviews I've read on this book, Kim. Great job:) My sister who' read this had the same opinion. She liked the book, but she did think it got bogged down with too many characters.
LOL on the clock description...heehee...
Anyhoo, this is on my TBR list on my e-reader so hopefully will get to read it soon.

Rakel said...

great review! happy day!

http://alovelystyle.blogspot.com.es/

Laia herrero said...

This is the first time I read about this author but it didn't sound really promising, I hate the kind of books-movies that start in a great way but the you feel something missing or they are too long.
Although you did a grey review Kim.
Xxx

Tina Bradley said...

Sounds like a mystical, magical read. I echo your thoughts: Wow ! What a movie that would make! xo T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

Alicia Mackin said...

Yes it seems a lot go writers have this problem, or I've versa. I think writing a compelling story and book is much harder then most people think.

Allie of ALLIE NYC formerly Dressing Ken

flysongbird said...

i had the same reaction to it..i actually have been meaning to ask you if you have read it ever since i saw the banner ad above fold..i was like "but, what the hell is it all really about!get it to already"!

Ann said...

Nice review.
Looks like it is worth reading and really interesting.

http://roomsofinspiration.blogspot.com/

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I hear ya. I sadly gave up. I agree that it started strong but then just got all monotonous. I felt like it was too much icing and not enough cake. The icing was good but there was only so much I could tolerate. I need to try it again some day.

Lilli said...

I need to copy the name and author since now I want to read it. Sounds beautiful and very magical, a perfect novel for Xmas holiday too. The movie, if they will decide to make it, would be only spectacular indeed. Great review Kim! Kisses! xo

Carole Poirot said...

It does sound great, but maybe a little excessive from what you're saying. I do like a bit of magic etc in books, but I also need to take into account that I mostly read before I fall asleep and will have to be able to pick up again the next day without having to wonder if I can remember all the details... Thanks for a very detailed review. xo

TheTinyHeart said...

It sounds like this book could be made into a movie with Baz Lurhmann...he is amazing at bringing those magical fantasies to life!

-Sharon
The Tiny Heart

Vett Vandiver said...

sounds like a wonderful story Kim, thanks for the review!

PAPS said...

This is one of my book in line to read. I have the kindle copy but have been reading I am Malala and Alice Adams. But next will be this. Thanks for the review.
www.thoughtsofpaps.com

Sara Gerard said...

oh! This looks intriguing! I need to add this to my (never ending) list of books that I need to read. Awesome review, Kim!

sandy sandhu said...

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Joie Fatale said...

I too found there was a problem with the middle.
I get some of what she was establishing, however, that part was...over done?
I LOVED how descriptive she was, and overall I really enjoyed it, too.

I am iffy about a movie. The problem with it could be the rush to produce it, versus, the construction of it. As you said, it will be an investment. A company has to REALLY want to make this good, for it to make money. They can't skimp on the funds.

LoveT. said...

What a great Review! It sounds interesting :)

kisses :*

Champagne Star said...

Wow, this book does sound magical, although it seems like more of an excuse for the author to create a magical fantasy world than to create an actual story with a plot. There are a lot of authors who are very image/description heavy, which at times takes away from the story rather than adding to it. Either way, it sounds like something I might take a chance on and read.

For some reason, when I think of this as a movie, I see a cross between, "Coraline", "Big Fish", and "Phantom of the Opera", which wouldn't necessary be a bad combination, but, at the same time, I see how it could get ridiculous very quickly.

Annie Sand said...

Thanks for the review, I need to check this book out. Happy Thursday my dear!

Jessica said...

I had never heard of this book. Just goes to show how far behind in everything I am. I have a huge stack of books by my bed waiting to be read but they are mostly fashion and business books.

Tracy @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

Sam said...

Thanks for your very thorough and informative review, I also like god descriptive narratives but in small doses. Does sound interesting. So lovely of you to stop by. Happy Friday!

Lala H said...

i hope they would make a great movie out of it!

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jo said...

Hey Kimmy, I love reading your book reviews. This one is so fun! I don't think I'd want to read this book though because I get confused when there are too many characters. Haha

xo Jo

http://www.whiterosesandcoffee.com/

littlemissandrea said...

Thanks for the comprehensive review, Kim! It sounds like a great book and I would enjoy it - I`ll have to hunt it down!

Linda B said...

Ooooh, this book sounds fantastic! I've been needing a good read

The Dragonfruit Diaries

FASHION TALES said...

Greaat review Kim, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book. I have several books on my list for holiday reading. Happy weekend. :-)

Amy L said...

Great review! Sounds so magical and amazing that I want it to really exist and be real!!

I hope the director can bring this story to life and not disappoint you!

Amy || Kekidoll.com

birdie to be said...

Sounds like a great review. Ill have to check it out. Thanks!

Rowena @ rolala loves said...

The premise of this tory does sound incredible and it would certainly make for spectacular screen adaptation if it does indeed bring together all the elements you mentioned.

Rowena @ rolala loves
Enter my BaubleBar earring blog anniversary giveaway!

Coco said...

It sounds like Tim Burton has a new screenplay ready, don't you think? I'm not a big fan of the genre I'm afraid, while I'm enchanted by your words. Why don't you write a book?
Buon weekend!
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What Kenny Hearts said...

Great post my dear!sounds like a great book to read.



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Cheryl van den Berg said...

Thanks for your thorough and honest review. I actually read this post last night but didn't have time to comment until today. I almost read The Night Circus, but wasn't sure I would like it, so I opted for all the Gillian Flynn books instead.

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Pamela RG said...

Excellent review! The story seems magical and enchanting but from what you wrote here, the story looks too busy with so many things going on. I hope they turn it to a movie with those chocolate mouse. Have a wonderful weekend!

London Loafers said...

Oh Kim, kim, kim... I have to admit I'm one of these die-hard fans of The Night Circus! I read it a few months ago and was just completely swept away!
I agree with what you said about the plot development... To a certain extent, I also didn't terribly fall for the characters - but I think that The Night Circus was , for me, one of those rare exceptions where the writing is so fantastic that nothing can really detract from the reading experience.

And wow, I hope this comment made sense. And if it didn't, it's exactly 4.33 a.m and I'm probably sleep writing this right now haha!

Hayfa
http://www.londonloafers.com

Lisa - respect the shoes said...

Ooh, I've considered buying this book - thanks for the review, I think I'm going to get it for my Kindle now!

Mary Jo said...

I'm so glad I read your review Kim, it sounds whimsical, but that kind of detail would make me lose interest, it's hard enough to find the time to sit down and read around here. Hope you're having a great weekend!

xo Mary Jo

Jo said...

Kim, you know I like whimsical stuff just like you and you wrote a really really wonderful review of this book. I haven't read it yet but I could imagine all the imagery. I love descriptive writing a lot but then too much of something good could cause toothache. I don't fancy reading 500 pages worth of extensive description. I mean your short little paragraph summary which sounded like Hunger Games really sealed the deal. I love how you said the clock has everything but the kitchen sink in it. Hahaha...

And high 5. Once I read the beginning of this post, I felt like I would love the movie a lot more than the book. I would probably love the first 100 pages of imagery and leave the rest to visual aspects that a movie could offer.

Brilliant write-up!

Jo said...

BTW, I was fascinated by your blog banner and immediately took a liking to how whimsy it looks. So it's from this Night Circus!

Rocker Chic said...

I'm always looking for good books to read and your review is enchanting now I want to read this for myself.

Great review Kim!!

Alexa said...

Thanks for such a thorough review...it sounds promising, but then too bad the story it didn't up to what it should have.

Nancy said...

Thanks for this review. Sometimes, I get sucked into the hype of reading a raved about book and then feel slightly disappointed with the end result. This happens with food spots and movies too. haha.
xo,
nancy

www.adoretoadorn.com

Nicky mywishstyle said...

A beautiful post and review!!!

Ciao

Fabulous Petite said...

Great review. This is the closest we get from the real thing and honest as well. Thank you lady.

xo
Sam
http://fabulouspetite.blogspot.com

Hyacinth Marius said...

Each bit of the story will turn out mean life or death for the Le Cirque des RĂªve. The ending will catch you off guard but will not disappoint you in the least.

I will recommend “The Night Circus” to all of my friends.
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Marlene Detierro said...

Erin Morgenstern has created the circus I have always longed for and she has populated it with dueling love-struck magicians, precocious kittens, hyper-elegant displays of beauty and complicated clocks. This is a marvelous book.

Marlene
PicCell Wireless

Mariz Denver said...

I wish I could emphatically state that this book is for everybody, but it isn't. I think of readers I know well ... My step-father will love it, my mother might, my father won't. Then again, this book is so surprising, I could be completely wrong.

For me, it was flawless.

Mariz
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