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The Night Circus

Narrated by: Jim Dale
Length: 13 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (346 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Telling her tale with all the attention to detail that has led fans to compare her to such literary greats as H. G. Wells, Erin Morgenstern's world is as dark and thrilling as it is monochromatic.

Longlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction.

In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire. Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers, and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs - the dreamers.

At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter’s daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer’s apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love.... 

A fabulous, fin-de-siècle feast for the senses and a life-affirming love story, The Night Circus is a captivating novel that will make the real world seem fantastical and a fantasy world real.

©2011 Erin Morgenstern (P)2011 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Night Circus

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Disappointing narration of a wonderful novel

I have read this novel when it was fist published and found it a wonderfully rich, lyrical tale. The narration of the audible edition did not at all suit the character of the book. Jim Dale adopted a slurred wheezing voice for many of the characters, including that of the hero, Marco. The twins Poppet and Widget were in particular given accents that made the pair of them sound like old country folk instead of young vibrant kids trying to save their beloved circus. It was so disagreeable to listen to that I have had to abandon the attempt and will instead reread the book myself.

7 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Absolutely magical story. Loved it. Have recommended to many people who also feel the same way.

2 people found this helpful

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mystery and magic

a story of great imagina5and intelligence . syrely one of the classics of this genre

2 people found this helpful

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The Night Circus

This is my favourite book!! I have read it 4 times and listened to it 3 times on here. It never loses any of its majesty or beauty. The imagery is evocative and absolutely stunning and I would love to dive into this world behind the black and white curtain!

1 person found this helpful

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Magical

Truly a great tale gripping from start to finish. I highly recommend it. It'll have you spell bound.

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely enchanting. Swept me away in dreams.

Loved every second of this book. The author created such an amazing place in my head that I will never forget it.

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truly amazing

I loved this book so much. beautifully told story. can't wait to read Erin's next book

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Absolutely amazing descriptions!

This novel is 100% worth listening too! The narrator Jim Dale is absolutely perfect for the novel and suits it well! The way the author describes all the scenery, scents, tastes around the characters! Definitely worth a read!

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my new favorite book

just magical in every sense of the word. the characters will stay with me eternally.

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Was underwhelmed

After reading many favourable reviews, I was excited to read the Night Circus. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me to love. It paints a beautiful world of magic and brings up fond childhood memories of visiting the circus but the plot is dull and the climax nonexistent.

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  • Reader Girl
  • 27-03-2013

Literary Tapestry

You’re walking aimlessly through a bookshop looking for a new read. You don’t quite know what you are looking for but you feel as though you’ll recognize it when you see it…

I recognized The Night Circus the second I saw it as something I needed to read. Whether I would enjoy or even finish it I wasn’t sure but something told me that I needed to at least try.

This is not an easy book to define but I’ll do my best. It’s essentially two interwoven stories, one tells the tale of a boy visiting the circus each year or so when it passes through his town. He makes friends with two of the children who work in the circus with a charming kitten show and together they explore all the amazing wonders of the circus and it’s seemingly infinite number of tents. One holds a winter wonderland of snow and ice, another simply holds a bowl of perfect black stones that take away your tears for a night. From incredible to subtly beautiful the boy of course falls in love with the circus so the rest of the world is merely a grey blur in comparison.

The other story is that of the two magicians who created and are still creating the great circus. Marco and Celia are in love and though they met as adults they have been in love their whole lives, writing love letters to one another through each magical tent they create. But they are merely pawns in a bigger, darker game played between Celia’s father and Marco’s mentor. The two lovers have been pitted against each other in a battle of wills and power, a battle to the death.

The Night Circus is not for everyone. It doesn’t read like your usual linear story in fact it reads rather like a painting or rather one of those long tapestries. I’m not sure I would want to read too many stories written this way, but this was so beautifully constructed that I could possibly enjoy a few like it.

One thing I think I should mention - The narration didn't quite do this story justice. I can't really fault the narrator BUT I can't help but think this story would have been more enjoyable if read by an English lady.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna
  • 01-05-2014

Loved it

What made the experience of listening to The Night Circus the most enjoyable?

It was so different to any other story I've read/heard. I could imagine the colours and how awesome it would be to make into a movie.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I didn't have a favourite, I was very intrigued as to how they each had importance in the story.

What about Jim Dale’s performance did you like?

Yep

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Brenda
  • 03-12-2012

A thrilling read!

Would you listen to The Night Circus again? Why?

Absolutely. The story is intricately and beautifully entwined with mystery and love. It's so jam packed with imagination and imagery, it's like watching a movie in your own head.

What did you like best about this story?

The imagery in this book is remarkable.

What about Jim Dale’s performance did you like?

Jim Dale captured the different accents very well. Even the slightest change in nuance made it immediately obvious which character he was playing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A deluge of dreams, mystery and love.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Aaron
  • 13-07-2012

All style, no substance. Hours of blah, blah, blah

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

The narrator (Jim Dale) seems to have the perfect voice for this novel.
Until he tries to do the various accents and female voices. His accents are terrible and his female voices sound like cross dressing lumberjacks. Distracting to say the least.
The story itself is boring and very slow. It's nothing but tone setting and creating images, the plot is almost non exsistant and secondary.

What could Erin Morgenstern have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Plot first, THEN atmosphere.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jim Dale’s performances?

No. His reading is very good but his character voices and attempts at accents are distracting and embarrassing.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Night Circus?

I never listen to abridged versions, no matter how many filler chapters there are. If you deleted the droning tone setting scenes from this book it would be at least 50% shorter.

Any additional comments?

Strictly for flakes. The blurb for this book is very deceptive, almost nothing happens.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • JoJoSneaker
  • 26-04-2017

interesting premise and description, but fails

to land any emotional punches. Beautiful but superficial. Most of the book feels like the introduction to the grand event, but the grand event never happens. Instead there are just a series of smaller events that wind things up without solid answers to many of the questions that I had.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lee-Ann
  • 19-08-2013

Enchanting

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, it is a complete fantasy world that lets you escape from the boring reality!

Would you listen to another book narrated by Jim Dale?

Probably

If you could rename The Night Circus, what would you call it?

Black and White and Red All Over

Any additional comments?

Simply great! I wanted to listen to it all day!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Caroline
  • 09-04-2012

Atmospheric presentation and original storyline

I was not sure what to expect having only read the reveiws of this book. It was a slow start and initially the narrators voice did not seem to suit, but after a while it began to become familiar and by the end I could not imagine an alternative. The story line is unusual and the descriptions are vivid but the plotline is rather convoluted and I would have preferred a more dramatic ending. But all in all very enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Damien
  • 17-01-2012

A poor tale nicely read

Would you try another book from Erin Morgenstern and/or Jim Dale?

Jim Dales reading was excellent. The novel failed to deliver on the expectations it set.

What could Erin Morgenstern have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Delivered on the promise of the novel. The reader is kept waiting for some sort of resolution, instead we are literally presented with a whole passage on how there are no longer any good stories (or are there).

Have you listened to any of Jim Dale’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was The Night Circus worth the listening time?

No

2 people found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 22-10-2019

Loved it!

I loved the story, really did. The narration could be improved upon but doesn't hurt the listening experience.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-2019

You'll love the circus as much as its visitors

The Night Circus is incredible. And I'm not talking about the book here, though I enjoyed it a great deal. The circus that is the subject of this story is the most interesting thing about it. It dances the line between magical realism and pure fantasy, and is beautifully described. Every mention of the various tents and acts and the magic behind them is delightful and engrossing.

I wish I could say the same for the characters. I felt for their struggles but their personalities didn't make as much of an impact as their roles in the circus. Their relationships often felt unearned, especially in the romantic moments, and they were only relatable in their love of the circus, because I loved it too.

The plot takes some time to get going and I got the feeling that even past the midpoint most new developments were just foreshadowing. But it picks up momentum towards the end and becomes deeply engrossing as it hurtles towards a genuinely moving conclusion.

All in all the Night Circus is strongest when it deals with magic and the circus and its many wonders. The characters aren't as memorable as the feats they accomplish, but I consider that forgivable, as the feats are very memorable indeed.

If you'd like to immerse yourself in a wondrous and very original world of magic and intrigue, then I'd highly recommend this book. It may not have the strongest characters nor the most gripping plot, but it was a setting I loved losing myself in.

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  • Paul Snook
  • 15-05-2016

The Magic Arrives Without Warning

I should admit to a little bias in this review because The Night Circus is one of my all-time favourite books and I feel that this audiobook does do it justice.

It is a love story above all else, but a love story on many levels. A love story between a man and a woman, a love story between the performers and their circus, a love story between the circus and its ardent fans. And then there is the magic. To say more would start to give too much away but it is a fantastical tale written fantastically well.

If I were to quibble with anything about this audiobook it with the performance. Jim Dale does read it beautifully but, when you have previously read the book yourself, you tend to have an idea of how various characters sound. So to hear Prospero and Mr A.H. sound like two bickering Yorkshiremen is a bit of a surprise, especially when I had always considered Prospero to be from the opposite side of the Pond.

That aside, you would not go far wrong if you wish to immerse yourself in a magical fantasy where anything seems possible and the real world a disappointment in comparison.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-10-2012

A Victorian Surrealist Romance

This book provides an enchanting journey into the world of a traveling Victorian circus, The length of the book is filled with such enchanting wordplay and enthralling descriptions that every new circus tent is an absolute pleasure, The brilliantly written and read characters are warm and comforting and the complete package leaves very little to be desired.



A fine purchase for any fan of magic, love or a reality based fantasy.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Janice
  • 09-01-2012

My kind of circus

Wonderfully complex story, full of detail, clear pictures of the unusual, and a nice interweaving of times and dates that came together satisfyingly in the end. Some surprises, some predictability, but all in all a good holiday read. Except for the narrator, oh dear, he did the "ancient mage" voice with all the weight of dusty centuries in it, but the young men, female and the childrens voices were quite dreadfully croaky. If you can get past the narrator you'll enjoy the story for its own sake.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Moominmamma
  • 17-08-2013

A comic book in wolf's clothing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. I would be a bit embarrassed to recommend it. I was totally intrigued by the synopsis of this book, a tall tale about a spectacular and enchanting circus, real magic and a fatalistic wager, it was beautifully conceived but the writer seemed to not to be quite up to the task. Set in the late 1800's, the characters, their behaviour, their language even their dress was all wrong for the time and they all lacked depth. The plot, I gradually came to realise, was a bit thin and the setting was so contrived it became irritating, with too much focus on monochrome (yes, I get it!!) and kittens. This would make a good graphic novel or fantasy film. So...whilst it wasn't bad, it was just not good enough.

If you’ve listened to books by Erin Morgenstern before, how does this one compare?

I haven't encountered her books before.

What aspect of Jim Dale’s performance might you have changed?

I feel this story needed a darker, richer, an altogether more lyrical voice.

Do you think The Night Circus needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

There wasn't enough substance in this for one book, let alone two.

Any additional comments?

I really loved the idea of this book but alas, it was all show and disappointment.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • carol
  • 23-12-2012

Magical, mysterious and captivating

I never thought I would listen to a book more than once but this one was so full of delectable detail that I was compelled to listen to it three times to date!

It was full of fascinating characters, interesting ideas and delightful thoughts but strangely edgy which all added to a kind of Victorian,vaguely Steampunk atmosphere.

I also loved the HGWells type attention to detail and how you were lead by the nose through a labyrinth of twisting and turning themes and ideas. The magic, mystery and slight of hand held my interest all the way. If you like unusual you may enjoy the Night Circus

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Rozemarijn
  • 04-02-2017

Nice idea but very superficial

The ideas are very interesting but the story stays at the surface. It takes a long time to unfold and it barely manages that. Also the fragmented chapters don't help. Really a pity there wasn't much depth or development since the first time meeting the citcus was enchanting.

Also the narator does some really akward voices.

I had to make myself finish this book.

12 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • GoodL
  • 03-02-2016

Wonderful story but ruined by choice of narrator

Would you try another book written by Erin Morgenstern or narrated by Jim Dale?

I am hoping Erin Morgenstern will write another book! I will read it though, not listen...

What did you like best about this story?

A wonderful, magical story that draws you in and keeps you there until long after you've finished the book. I read this book a few years ago and was tempted by the audible version as I had loved it so much.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator's voice unfortunately is too "old" and gravelly. It suits the two older characters in the book but not the main characters who are young. I actually gave up on the audio-book about half way though and read my paperback instead. It took me a while to get the narrator's voice out of my head but once I had I enjoyed it much more!

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Definitely!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • colin
  • 20-01-2013

a masterpiece

Quite the most mysterious, magical and remarkable book i have read in a long time. A spell is cast and reader is drawn into the plot. Original and unique I hope to see more from this super talented author.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Rkian
  • 22-07-2015

I didn't enjoy this book

What would have made The Night Circus better?

I kept waiting for this book to start coming together and for the plot to pull me in, but it never actually happened. I finished listening to it because I'd got so far through it that I felt like I had to, but I didn't enjoy it. I really didn't find the romance very interesting, so if the plot had been different I might have enjoyed it more, as it is quite a cool concept.

What was most disappointing about Erin Morgenstern’s story?

I found the romance between Celia and Marco boring and trite.

How could the performance have been better?

I really didn't like the narrator's rendition of any of the younger or female characters. His voice was just wrong for them.

What character would you cut from The Night Circus?

Marco probably I guess, but I got bored of both him and Celia pretty quickly. I liked Chandresh (spelling?) and some of the minor characters.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr L Reynolds
  • 14-01-2015

Beautifully descriptive but lack of substance.

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Circus performers, artists.

Would you ever listen to anything by Erin Morgenstern again?

Possibly it would depend on the storyline, unlikely though.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jim Dale’s performances?

I felt he was a bit flat & possibly had a negative effect on the book, I would have preferred someone who could have brought the story to life a bit more, I think Evanna Patricia Lynch would have read this particular story well. I probably wouldnt listen to JD unless he was reading a more serious or classic book, which his voice may possibly suit better.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was disappointed, my partner read this & absolutely loves it. The synopsis really appealed to me, the plot just did not deliver for me.

Any additional comments?

Overall I didnt enjoy the story & found it quite boring, I can appreciate some of the beautiful descriptive writing & that carried it through to a certain point, but after a while I just found I was getting frustrated as nothing was really happening. She writes in a similar style to my favourite author Patrick Rothfuss but he also delivers on the storyline element to. I was not at all gripped & if I was reading I probably wouldnt have finished it. I felt the same feeling after I read 'The Bone Clocks' by David Mitchell, that I could not believe the author has gone to all this effort to end the story with no twist or surprise & just fizzles out like the end of a song.

2 people found this helpful