Book Review – The Night Circus

Book Cover of Night Circus
Image Credit: Amazon.UK

As the name suggests, the story is about a circus – Le Cirque des Rêves – that opens only at night. But it is not an ordinary circus where animals play stunts and jokers humiliate themselves before the audience. It is a circus that is larger than life and every person associated with it is brilliant showcasing their unparalleled craft. While spectators revel in the extraordinary talent show and enjoy the various eats stalls, no one realizes that the circus is actually an arena for a competition.

Two great magicians create the circus to enter into a competition; however, it’s not they who actually fight, but their respective proteges Celia and Marco. The two young magicians have been trained since childhood for this fierce competition, and neither of them knows that in this game, only one can be left standing. It’s not a duel with swords, but a battle of imagination. Everything would have gone brilliantly except that the older instructors hadn’t counted on their proteges falling in love – a spiritual and magical kind of love.

In spite of their love, they remain bonded to the circus because the fate of the circus and of everyone involved with it; from the performers to the patrons hangs precariously on their game. Read the book to find out if Celia and Marco are able to outplay the game and save the circus?


Let me tell you that The Night Circus is not an easy book to review.

The book catches your attention as soon as you read the excerpt –

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.

The author paints a larger than life image of the night circus – there is intrigue, mystery and excitement. The one of its kind black-and-white clock made to order by a German horlogier, each performer hand picked for his or her unique skill and the foods available at the stalls which can be found nowhere in the world; it actually made me long to visit such a circus. The circus neither is just a venue nor it is just a talent show, but it is like a breathing and living person in the book. The story starts and ends with the circus.

All the characters are well sketched especially Celia and Marco, Chandresh – the founder of the Circus, the horlogier who becomes an ardent fan of the circus and the twins. However, I had a feeling that some of the characters were not reasonably dealt with in the end.

The love story between Celia and Marco simmers slowly, takes years to mature and spans over decades. It might test your patience at times.

The detailed description of how the young magicians were trained for the competition is quite entertaining. Also, the description of the circus and its various components is a delight to read. And, the narration is sheer poetry.

Excerpts from the book

The ticket booth clearly visible behind the gates is closed and barred. The tents are still, save for when they ripple ever so slightly in the wind. The only movement within the circus is the clock that ticks by the passing minutes, if such a wonder of sculpture can even be called a clock. The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold. The sun disappears completely beyond the horizon, and the remaining luminosity shifts from dusk to twilight. 

 First, there is a popping sound. It is barely audible over the wind and conversation. A soft noise like a kettle about to boil for tea. Then comes the light. All over the tents, small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. The waiting crowd quiets as it watches this display of illumination. Someone near you gasps. A small child claps his hands with glee at the sight. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

They stand entwined but not touching, their heads tilted toward each other. Lips frozen in the moment before (or after) the kiss. Though you watch them for some time they do not move. No stirring of fingertips or eyelashes. No indication that they are even breathing. “They cannot be real,” someone nearby remarks.
Many patrons only glance at them before moving on, but the longer you watch, the more you can detect the subtlest of motions. The change in the curve of a hand as it hovers near an arm. The shifting angle of a perfectly balanced leg. Each of them always gravitating toward the other. Yet still they do not touch.

Wait till you read the description of the black-and-white custom clock. It’s a torture to read and fantasize but not be able to see it for yourself.


Erin Morgenstern writes beautifully. She has written a book about magicians, illusions and enchantments, love and star-crossed lovers, however, I would have preferred a bit more story. Truthfully, I was disappointed with the end. For a book that started with such a bang, it lost its luster.

However, if you prefer powerful storytelling over the plot, then the Night Circus is definitely your book. Read it for its lyrical and evocative storytelling.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to one of them. Seriously, only one!!

2. A book written by a Female author

19. A book written by an author who is new to you


Book Review – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

You pick some books either because the fancy cover catches your eye or because you find the title intriguing. For me, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street exhibited both these characteristics; not only was the three dimensional book cover eye catching but the title was quite intriguing too. And I am happy I chose this book because it was one of the warmest reads of the recent times.

Book cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Pic –

In the year 1883, in the thick of the Irish War of Independence, Thaniel Steepleton, a telegraphist, returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the same watch saves his life by setting off an ear-piercing alarm that draws him away from the blast that destroys Scotland Yard. Realizing it was not an ordinary timepiece, Thaniel goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, an old but kind immigrant from Japan who stays in the Show Village.

Scotland Yard suspects Mori of being the brain behind the bombings. On Scotland Yard’s insistence, Thaniel rents a room in Mori’s house to dig more about him. But very soon he comes to realize that there is more to Mori than meets the eye. Mori is a clairvoyant who can predict certain future events, but he is not a wicked person. Mori, considers himself Thaniel’s friend and guardian, and tries to protect his ward as best as he can, though Thaniel doesn’t always understand Mori’s intentions.

Thaniel meets Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist and decides to marry her, though he knows Mori and Grace don’t like each other. But then certain events unfold which make Thaniel realize who he wants to spend his entire life with.

It is a very unusual book. Set in Victorian London, it takes us on a nostalgic walk through the cobbled streets of London, Victoria station, the West Minister Abbey, the filthy banks of the Thames and the up-market Belgravia. It also gives us a satisfying peek into Japan and how its civil war affects its aristocracy and traditions.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street has many heroes for me. Obviously, Mori outshines them all, with his kindness, his stoicism and his loyalty above all. He is an interesting character as he lives in the heart of London, talks in an almost faultles English accent and has his hair dyed so he doesn’t stand out too much in the crowd. On the other hand, Thaniel is a simple person from Edinburgh who gets drawn in by people’s kindness. However, he makes a just decision at the end of the story.

Grace Carrow might come out as the villain in the story, but she is driven by hurt and jealousy, and might be excused. She is a feminist of her day and age without her knowing about it; she is intelligent and bold. She defies all customs and traditions and walks about in men’s clothes so as not to be stopped in gentlemen’s gatherings. She is also obstinate – she plans to spend the night with Thaniel walking on the streets of London, so that she would be disgraced and forced to marry Thaniel. Though Matsumoto, Grace’s friend from Oxford, has a short role in the story, it is quite an important one.

This book appealed to me on various levels. It’s a story about friendship between Mori and Thaniel and between Grace and Matsumoto. It’s also a love story which you will realize at the end (no, it’s not a spoiler). Mori’s clairvoyance and his clever if strange watchmaking make you feel as if you are reading a fantasy. There are times when you get confused between the flitting from real to fantasy and back, but they are far and few in between. Also, I found the end to be too fortunate, but the romantic in me appreciated the happy ending (again not a spoiler).

This book has several colors – while I was reading it, I passed the narrow black streets of London, I felt the gray overcast skies, touched the warm oranges and reds from the Chinese lanterns in Filigree Street and saw the golden timepieces and green pears.

The story has all the right ingredients that keep you hooked – bombs, suspense, reality and magic. And so for all the above reasons, Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is not to be missed.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to one of them. Seriously, only one!!

2. A book written by a Female author

10. A book set in a country that you visited/want to visit

19. A book written by an author who is new to you

23. A book you bought just because of its cover/a book with a beautiful cover