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Cannonball Read III: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

By Caitlin, Even Stevens, sevenstories, & Ashley | Books | December 30, 2011 |

By Caitlin, Even Stevens, sevenstories, & Ashley | Books | December 30, 2011 |

As I was pulling together The Best Books of Cannonball Read III, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was recommended no less than four times, which was twice as many times as any other book on the list. More folks came out in the comments to sing its praises. Somehow this book had flown under my radar. For those of you who are also curious about this highly praised book, I wanted to give you a review of it, so you could know more about the book.

When I went looking for a review, I found four of them—all excellent—and I just couldn’t pick one over the other. So, I’m giving you a taste of each here, with a link to the rest of the review. I advise you to read all of them, because each writer reviews the book in her own, lovely way. And yes, I must add this one to my reading list for CBR-IV—TU


Le Cirque de Reves translates to the circus of dreams. Without any warning, it arrives in a town. The gates open at nightfall and close at dawn. It contains tents filled with wonders beyond your wildest dreams.

It is also the setting for an epic battle. Long ago, two men chose students. They trained them in their ideology, telling them that one day they will be called upon to fight, but not telling them that only one of them will be left standing. Hector Bowen chose his newly inherited daughter Celia. The man in gray chose rescued orphan Marco. Celia and Marco are tied together before they even meet. Good-natured competition over controlling territory in the circus leads to respect leads to love. It’s difficult to convey these things without sounding cheesy, but their romance is entirely charming.

Read the rest of her review here.

Even Stevens:

The Night Circus primarily involves two storylines: Set in the late 1800s and spanning about thirty years, the book focuses on a magical competition between two old rivals and the construction of a mysterious, mind-bending circus that occurs only once darkness falls. These two stories eventually merge, making the circus the grand stage of a magical competition.

In the liner notes, Erin Morgenstern describes her stories as “fairy tales in one way or another,” and I think that is a very appropriate way to view The Night Circus. Morgenstern’s writing is descriptive and vivid, casting a sense of alluring enigma over the construction and proceedings of the circus. Even the meetings held to plan the venue are grand affairs. She creates a rich, detailed world filled with mysterious players and exhibitions, and it feels as though she is equally enamored with, and mystified by, the circus herself. The narrative is told entirely in third person, which I don’t always love, but in this case I think it works wonderfully for the story, keeping the reader guessing about the nature of the circus as much as any other patron that enters it.

Read the rest of her review here.


There are many narratives that weave in and out of the story and you are never sure which story you are going to pick up at the beginning of each chapter. They all wind around the circus; a mysterious black and white circus that appears and leaves suddenly and only opens at night. The paths weave around a bonfire that burns white and no paths ever lead to a dead end. There are contortionists, acrobats, rooms of impossiblilites such as the Ice Garden. I have rarely wished something fictional was real so much. At the heart of the story are Celia and Marco who have been pitted aginst each other by respectively, their father and the man who rescued him from an orphanage. The two men are seeking to battle talent against training in a battle that Celia and Marco do not fully understand the rules of. As well as the stories of various people involved with the circus, there is the story of Bailey, a boy in 1902 who sneaks into the circus and finds his life intertwined in the circus in ways he ever thought possible.

Read the rest of her review here.


I wish I could just review this novel with two words: “simply magical.” No two other words I think could better define the story that surrounds The Night Circus. I’ll warn you that once you read it you will be extremely sad that The Night Circus is not real. Summit Entertainment has bought the rights to the movie and if they can bring this film to life I’ll be ecstatic.

Le Cirque des Rêves arrives without warning and is only open from dawn to twilight. The whole circus revolves around a black and white theme but the acts, talents, and tents bring all the color that is needed. Imagine a tent filled with what looks like clouds that allows one to bounce to and from them. Or a tent with mirrors upon mirrors but each one shows a different scene. Or a tent with magicians so phenomenal that they make you want to believe in magic.

Read the rest of her review here.

These reviews are part of Cannonball Read III. For more information click here.

To sign up for Cannonball Read IV, start here.

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