magical but not much more? | book review

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Rating: ★★★☆☆

One magical challenge, two contestants, and a special setting: the circus. Celia and Marco have been pulled into a challenge by their mentors, a challenge of magical skill and vision. However, this challenge quickly becomes more than just a show of talent between them; lives of others are intertwined, feelings evolve, and unforeseen consequences occur. Magical and mystical, this book tells the tale of those involved in the Night Circus.

Recommended if you like:

  • Whimsical, atmospheric settings
  • Un-chronological timelines, jumping back and forth in time and between characters
  • Slow-paced plot and character development

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My Spoiler-Free Review

If you haven’t heard of The Night Circus and how amazing it supposedly is, you’re probably living under a rock.

Just saying, I had heard and read so many great reviews about this book before I picked it up a few months ago. So, I shocked myself when I read a few chapters and set it back down.

I set this book down in order to read something else. That’s a problem.

I decided to give it another try more recently, and figured a new format would be a good idea. So, I checked out the audiobook, and was pleased to get sucked into the story much easier this time.

However, that feeling of confusion over why everyone thinks this book is so great never quite left me. Don’t get me wrong: this book has beautiful writing, intriguing characters, and a setting that jumps off the page. It’s truly magical. But is it much more than that?

I found the whole premise of the book confusing. Two old acquaintances strike up a challenge, that requires each to teach magic (though they don’t call it that) to a student. Years down the line, their students–Celia and Marco–go head to head. Except, they’re never told the details of this challenge. They aren’t outright told who their opponent is. They don’t know how they’re being judged. They don’t even know the point of the challenge.

Do you see how their obliviousness to it all might be confusing to a reader? Not to mention how it might invoke a certain amount of apathy to the conflict? When they characters don’t care about the conflict all that much, neither do I.

I also found the writing to be lyrical and beautiful, but at the cost of developing true bonds between characters and readers. I felt that a certain depth of character was missing for the whole cast; they were interesting, but I couldn’t connect to any of them, in any way. I felt sympathetic for some, but not much more than that. This left me floating adrift while I read.

And, finally, I was pretty turned off by the insta-love. Which was unfortunate, because the romance was, again, written beautifully. But, AGAIN, the lack of character depth made the basis of the romance basically nonexistent? Hard to believe? I mean, it felt like they hardly knew each other even though years and years had gone by since they first met. That’s not a good way to start off writing a romance. I didn’t fall for the romance like I wanted to.

SO. This book was lovely, but perhaps just not for me. Those certain aspects that I didn’t enjoy stood out too much for me to focus on the good things more. It was a nice read, but certainly not a new favorite.

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Am I the only one who didn’t fall in looove with this book? Can you explain this conundrum to me?!?

Is something wrong with me???

Until next time,
Brianne

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