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The Night Circus

Written by: Erin Morgenstern
Narrated by: Jim Dale
Length: 13 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (148 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: 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 them, 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 and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

©2011 Erin Morgenstern (P)2011 Random House

What the critics say

" The Night Circus made me happy. Playful and intensely imaginative, 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." (Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife)
"Self-assured, entertaining debut that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic…. Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Debut author Morgenstern doesn't miss a beat in this smashing tale of greed, fate, and love... a giant, magical story destined for bestsellerdom. This is an electric debut on par with Special Topics in Calamity Physics." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A Must-Read for All those Craving a little Magic!

This is a must-read for all lover of magic, illusion and romance.
Erin Mogenstien suspends reality and draws in the reader with a descript narrative involving all the senses making you wish it wasn't a work of fiction and you to could visit the tents of the Cirque des Rêves. The characters are unique and colourful, a strong contrast to the black and white setting of the circus which in itself is wonderful to imagine. As always Jim Dale brings each character to life with his unique voice acting and is a credit to the reading of this wonderful story.


#Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A magical love story

I love this book, and Jim Dale's reading brings it to life. It is a true love story set amidst a magical circus, with a parallel story of one boy's love of the circus. True storytelling; I have listened to this countless times and I never tire of it. Recommended for: romantics, and those who love magic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lex
  • 2017-11-11

Jim Dale is such a wonderful narrator

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although likely more thanks to Jim Dales wonderful reading. He makes wonderful theatre of the stories he presents.
This book did an excellent job of setting a scene. I loved the visuals, its waa very beautiful.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A tale of dreamy magic without a lot of logic

You will like this book if you like dreamy, fantastical scenes and mysterious carnival type settings and unexplained mystery and magic. If this is you, you will probably also like (and possibly better) books like Caraval, and The High House.

You will NOT like this book if you look for: solidly explained magic systems and worldbuilding; fast-moving plots; and watertight plots and character motivations.

I picked up this audiobook simply because my company's holiday party this year is themed after it, and I wanted to know more about the theme. Goal achieved; now I know to dress in black and white, and wear a red rose or red scarf. The rest of the book was entertaining but confusing to listen to in audio form, since the timeline jumps back and forth and it's very hard to keep track of which chapter is happening in which year when you can't flip back to check the way you can on paper.

Generally speaking, most of the cover blurb is at best exaggerated and at most an outright lie. The book is really about the circus, which isn't even a circus but more of a masquerade carnival type thing. It mysteriously appears overnight, opens only between dusk and dawn, and vanishes without warning. Visitors wander between different tents as they wish, each containing a different wonder.

In the back story, we learn that two rival magicians have each chosen a student to compete in some vague type of competition that is never clearly explained even to the students. These two very problematic teachers teach and abuse their students in various ways and bind them irrevocably to this competition for life. They agree the competition will take place in the circus, but don't tell their students anything useful about what's required, how to win, or how it's scored. Instead, the students grow up and even once they both join the circus, the story wanders around for 15 years or more with both completely unaware of what they need to do to win or lose, instead entertaining themselves by making more magical marvels in the circus until they're indispensible to its continuation. The previous competition between the previous students of these teachers lasted for something like 37 years and only ended because one of them killed herself, so ya know, this book is actually relatively brief.

Anyway, without getting into plot details, plot is rather rambling and the ending seems a little contrived. So if you enjoy magical rambling tales go for it, but if you're looking for reasons, motivations, and logical plot devices, this probably isn't a book for you.

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Fantastic fantasy

This was a truly fantastic read. I loved the story, the richness in detail, the fantasy. And a satisfying ending. The narration was perfection.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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a decent story

I googled books that are better as audiobooks than reading. This came up. The performance was well done but I wouldn't say you need to listen to this. Reading would work just as well.

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HORRIBLE story, good imagery

The most metiocre story with fumbling attempts at character development. Provide zero context to all the main categories: Who? What? Where? Why?!? All of which makes no sense, not even culminating into any semblance of logic at the end. Every character has the most tenuous connection to the next with an inconceivable attachment to eachother. Random and incoherent. A "love-story" with zero chemistry or rooting of reason.

Negativity aside, the scenic imagery in conveying the environments of the Night Circus are awe inspiring; if only that was enough to bind this contrived piece of Y.A filth... A 13 hour waste that would have been best served as a short story focusing solely on the imagery of this Night Circus. Would have scored a "1" overall if the author (more likely the talented voice acting of Jim Dale's interpretation of the text) that I gave it a "2".

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First Audio Book Ever

The book itself is magical, creative and adventurous and is my favourite novel of all time.

I have read the night circus at least three times before having this opportunity of listening to the audio book.

I will be honest it has been 2 years since I have last read it and being able to relive the book through audio is an amazing experience.

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Ordinary

Good narrator for an ok book. I enjoyed it but it the plot was lack lustre.

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Great world, slow story.

If you enjoy detailing a whole new world, this is a wonderful listen. The world is beautifully created and described, with many very visual descriptions. Magic and fantasy are a part of every stage of this carefully designed setting. The story itself moves extremely slowly and I had to force myself to keep listening numerous times. I would highly recommend as an escape into another world, but not as a book that keeps you on your toes with the story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2011-09-22

The circus of your dreams

This was one of the most wonderful books I've ever heard. A feast for the ears. The story is fantastically imaginative, the prose is richly visual, I could see all the details of the circus and smell the popcorn and caramel. I wanted to visit the circus myself! The narrator does a wonderful job bringing everything to life. I didn’t want it to end. Once it was over, I couldn’t wait to listen again. This is everything an audiobook should be - try it, you won't be sorry.

223 of 240 people found this review helpful

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  • Suzn F
  • Fletcher, VT, US
  • 2011-09-18

Dreamlike Experience to Savor

This story envelops the reader. I cannot think of another book I have so thoroughly relished. With each and every sentence the author invites you to feel, taste and smell the Night Circus.This circus is like nothing else, beyond imagination. Yet I could see myself there, and although the circus is in only black and white, I was immersed in color and texture. Listening to this story is like eating the most amazing meal in the most beautiful placed you can imagine while sitting next to someone with whom you are infatuated. What a wonderful dream, I want to return and feel it all again, so sad when the book ended. And the narration brings it all alive, kudos to both author and narrator.

247 of 272 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Grant
  • NANTUCKET, MA, United States
  • 2012-04-18

Something about this book bothered me.

It was a pleasant diversion. And well crafted. But for some reason, I was not pulled into this book as others have been. Jim Dale's performance, as usual, was great. But perhaps I would have liked it more if it had been read by a woman. Maybe the thing that bothers me most about this book is that the premise was more mechanical than emotional. Maybe I did not cotton to the rather cryptic and largely unexplained (until the end, and even then not very well explained) bargain struck at the beginning of the book. Maybe the characters were less than three-dimensional. Maybe it just felt like it was made up as it went along ??? like a children's impromptu story. I don't know. All I do know is that The Night Circus did not thrill me. And I really did want to be thrilled.

155 of 171 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 2012-09-28

The Circus is Coming!

Within moments of beginning this recording my toes began curling with pleasure and I felt cozy comforters being tucked in around me. This is an extraordinary story with extraordinary narration. Some might describe this story as dark, but a story which is uniformly uplifting can not be dark. Some describe the story as a romance, but a romance is seldom as nuanced. Is it a fantasy? Is it an allegory? Is it a retelling? It does not really matter, for this is a very good story. There is little action and little romance but a bouquet of delightful imagery. I found the story evoking archetypal memories that were familiar and comforting. If you prefer a fast moving story with lots of action, this is not the book for you. I loved the images, the slow even pace, and especially the circus. I suspect this book has forever changed the way I will feel whenever I think of a circus.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

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  • Victoria
  • 2011-09-19

Deliciously Imaginative

This beautifully descriptive book could not come out during a better season when the imagination is already a tingle for Halloween. This world created by Ms. Morgenstern rolls out the red carpet for characters are rich and strong in their own right. This is a book that will always be on my iPod.

92 of 104 people found this review helpful

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  • Theodore
  • Kingston, Jamaica
  • 2012-01-04

It does feel magical

The narrator made this book for me. The story itself is a pretty cool, I like the concept and it was just plain fun to listen to. I think the pace of the story slows down a lot of times and as much as some of the other characters were developed, I could see greater development still being done or more side plots being created to compensate for the rather slow pace of the story sometimes. Still though, fascinating book to listen to and you really do get a sense that you are in a magical place...

77 of 87 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe
  • Modesto, CA
  • 2012-07-02

I had high hopes for this one - unfortunately.

I don't normally read these kinds of books, but the reviews were great. A lot of listeners loved the book. I didn't. The story had a lot of promise, but the characters that ended up being the ones focused on had a good beginning, a poor conclusion and a soft middle-story. The descriptions were good, but didn't add too much to the plot of the story. There was also a weird digression into the occult that added nothing to the story and was a little annoying. The narrator was excellent; the story itself had promise. The descriptions were good but didn't build the story as well as they could have.
For me, this was a case of a bad fit. It's a case of "everything is not for everyone." You may enjoy this book. I wouldn't recommend the book, though.

105 of 120 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dayle
  • Hoover, Al, United States
  • 2015-05-03

Meh

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I tried. I really did. After halfway thru I gave up. It just did not grab me. I kept waiting for something to coalesce with the story, the characters, but it just left me with loose ends. Great premise. Great characters, but too muddy for my taste. Im aware that not all readers are the same, and obviously many loved it. Fantastic narration....

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pam
  • West Covina, CA, United States
  • 2011-09-21

Magic

A complex story, it goes from locations in time to locations in the world. It is a story of love and of hubris. There are secrets that have you hanging- why? what is going on? It is a real world, fully realized, of things that cannot exist, but do. Add to that Mr. Dale's inimitable style and voice characterizations, and this is a winner. This is one of my best books of the year- audio or written.

63 of 72 people found this review helpful

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  • L. deHart
  • 2011-09-20

Wonder and Curiousity

I just finished the Night Circus. The story style reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman, who I think is a wonderful writer in the genre of the "curiousier and curiousier." This story weaves around you from the start, and in the end leaves you wishing to open your mind to all sorts of possibilities. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

91 of 106 people found this review helpful