#20BacklistIn2020 · 2020 Reviews · buddy read · fantasy · historical fiction

#20BACKLISTIN2020 Backlist Book Challenge: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2020 backlist challenge graphic

In a desperate bid to reduce the books that are collecting dust on my TBR shelves, I have decided to collaborate with another avid reader and fellow book reviewer, Nicole from Certified Book Addicts. The #20BACKLISTIN2020 challenge is a self paced challenge hosted by Jaylamm.ReadsReading and Sunshine, and Cassidys.Bookshelf. The overall goal of this challenge is to read 20 titles from the backlist books that are currently sitting on your TBR pile. For this challenge I will be reading non review books and taking my selections directly from my chock-a-block TBR bookcases (there are two shelved back to back). I will be publishing my reviews of these books on my blog and social media sites on the first and third Tuesday of the month.

Book #10 in the #20BACKLISTIN2020 challenge

Estimated TBR Shelf Life: 7 years

A novel of magic and love that has enchanted readers far and wide with the spectacular the night circus smallpower of its imagination.

A novel of magic and love that has enchanted readers far and wide with the spectacular power of its imagination.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow,sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves
The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.


Get ready to ignite all your senses and set your imagination free as you step into the magical world of The Night Circus. This debut novel by Erin Morgenstern, published in 2011, has the power to hypnotise readers. The Night Circus is a place where magic, fantasy and reality converge.

Deemed a New York Times bestseller, The Night Circus introduces two ill-fated lovers who are pitted against each other in a game like no other. With a fantastical circus acting as the backdrop to this magical battle, the two innocent lovers test their skills in the art of magic. Neither of them knows the intent of this game, especially as the end result is to have just one of them left standing alive. A cruel act decided upon them by their mentors, leaves Celia and Marco with no choice but to complete their deadly duel. However, love prevails, sending many lives into disarray. For Celia and Marco there is only one thing that truly matters, their love for one another.

The Night Circus was finally dusted off my shelf after sitting on my TBR pile for over seven years. A buddy read event I committed to with fellow blogger and host Theresa Smith Writes encouraged me to take a chance on Erin Morgenstern’s debut. If it hadn’t been for this reading event, I have the feeling that The Night Circus would continue to linger on my shelves. I admit I have been a little skeptical in approaching this book. My dislike for fantasy and magical realism has resulted in an avoidance of books that I feel fit into this category. Thankfully, although I can say The Night Circus does contain elements of magical realism and fantasy, the rich historical background, the romance and mystery side of things helped my enjoyment factor of this novel.

The Night Circus is an utter feast for the senses. It is best to sit back and let Erin Morgenstern take over and serve you with a fine cuisine, with a distinct circus flavour. I loved how I could taste the richness of the caramel popcorn, smell the bonfire, feast my eyes on the magical sights of the circus and consume plenty of cider! I started marking off many pages that resonated with me and in the end there were too many to include in my review. So I whittled it down to just one.

‘More than a circus, really, likes no circus anyone has ever seen. Not a single large tent but a multitude of tents, each with a particular exhibition. No elephants or clowns. No something more refined than that. Nothing commonplace. This will be different, this will be an utterly unique experience, a feast for the senses. Theatrics sans theater, an immersive entertainment. We will destroy the presumptions and preconceived notions of that a circus is and make up something else entirely, something new.’

I hope that in including the above quote you get a small taster of Erin Morgenstern’s one of a kind circus. In The Night Circus, you need to abandon all your previous constructions of what a circus entails. In Morgenstern’s circus there are magicians and acrobats, but there are also human statues, a magical garden and a collection of tents that immerse you in a new world. The imagery in this book is simply breathtaking. What remained strong in my response to The Night Circus was the overwhelming visual quality to the writing. I desperately want to see this one up on the big screen. It would offer a spectacular show!

At the heart of this story is a battle of wills, spirit, rivalry and skill. The narrative is driven by the game that is decided for the leads by their superiors. It is also propelled by the forbidden style love that flourishes between these two beautiful souls. Morgenstern handles both these aspects of her novel remarkably well, especially for a first time writer.

Morgenstern uses The Night Circus to explore themes of mentorship, competition, fate, chance, freedom, acceptance, belief, love, friendship, personal goals, sacrifice, self-realisation, adventure and defiance. With shifting time frames moving from the late 1800s through to the first half of the nineteenth century, I loved the chance to be transported to this time period. The world building was astonishing and immersive.

A radiant and glittering visual spectacle, The Night Circus will please many readers, especially those who enjoy alternative historical fiction based novels.

**** 4.5 stars

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was published on 13th September 2011. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here. 

To learn more about the author of The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern, visit here.

13 thoughts on “#20BACKLISTIN2020 Backlist Book Challenge: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Wow, what a spellbinding review! I saw this on social media which I thought was about 2 years ago but that can’t be possible if your shelf life of this book has been 7 years. My goodness, time goes fast! I’m delighted that you enjoyed this one a lot.

    And news on the op shopping today, I bought three books and all male authors – Evan Davis, Andrew McGahan and Andy McDermott. I’m not familiar with the first two but I have heard of Andy McDermott. The two fiction books sound right up my alley, not sure about the non-fiction but it is a book that fits a pop sugar prompt. I was looking around my book room and I spotted on the edge of my bookshelf another Harlan Coben book, how good is that, totally forgot I had it, this one is titled Missing You. April loves op shopping so she came along, we had a great day out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s truly lovely, it means a lot so thank you from me! Yes it’s hard to believe this one was published back in 2011 and I’ve had it on my shelves since I first started the markets! It is full of beautiful descriptions so a lovely read and quite different too.

      That sounds like a successful shopping trip, I hope you had fun! I’ve heard of those authors, so enjoy! I also hope you can match them to some challenges, always a bonus. Glad you had fun with April too. Wish I was there! Fab news too about the Harlan find, awesome!


  2. Can you believe you’ve had it there for 7 years? The time goes so fast. I read The Book Thief last week and it still had the docket inside, 2012. I couldn’t believe it! I may have to join this challenge next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Veronica and seven years on my shelves is too long! Time flies! At least it wasn’t a review book, just on op shop purchase.
      Wow, 2012, that’s quite some time too but a classic. You will definitely have to join us next year!


  3. Exceptionally written review, I think you captured the book really well. I loved the circus but was not as enamored with the main characters or the love story so much, but I a bit of a cynic 🙂 I really enjoyed reading your take on it though.


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