The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern

Night_CircusThis book should have been everything to me – a spooky circus and a sorcerous battle set in the Victorian Era – but it was just so damn boring. It started strong with the hoary old magicians selecting unaware students to continue their contest of skills, and then building the titular circus to serve as the staging ground. Once the circus is up and running with the young magicians showing off their respective skills in increasingly elaborate exhibits, the novel really bogged down in endless descriptions of amazing and whimsical spectacle.

I really wanted to like this book because it has shown up on so many people’s best book guides, but the vast majority of the book is physical descriptions of settings both in the circus and out, and I find those extremely tiresome. Kinsey, who has read and enjoyed it, recommended approaching it like a poem, but I mostly don’t enjoy poetry either. There was just enough intrigue to keep me from giving up on the book entirely, though I kept interrupting it in order to read other books, and the action finally begins in the final 20% of the book.

I will say that the end is very good, but I just don’t think it was worth quite the level of build-up it got. While I sure would like to actually visit the night circus and see it all for myself, reading about it got old really fast.

—Anna

2 comments on “The Night Circus

  1. Heddy says:

    Thank you, finally someone who feels the same way about this book as I do! I had such high hopes when I started reading because of all the good things I’d heard and read, but they were not met at all. I have to admit I found it rather badly written as well, which was quite annoying.

    The premise of the story sound so promising and original, but I felt the author didn’t really dare to take any chances when writing it. It’s almost a bit sad thinking about how this could possibly have been a brilliant story if just written a bit differently.. :/

    • Anna says:

      Right? So many people raved about it that I still feel like I must have missed something about it. Despite writing this blog, I’m not actually all that good at judging quality of writing, though I’m getting a little better about thinking critically about why I do or do not like different books.

      I’ve been rereading some of my favorite pulp mysteries lately, which is also one of my favorite genres, and I realized that they have almost no physical description at all – it is almost entirely dialogue with some action – and that’s how I like my books.

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