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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is the tale of two young magicians, Marco and Celia, who are bound to a game in which neither has chosen to participate and in which neither fully understands the rules.  This game was devised by two competing magicians, Alexander, who plucked Marco from an orphanage, and Prospero, Celia’s father.    Alexander trains Marco in the old ways of magic and Prospero trains Celia in ways to strengthen her natural abilities.   The chosen venue for the game is a very special circus; and the chemistry that pulls Marco and Celia together is pure magic.

Book Club Ideas


The Night Circus arrives unannounced and no one truly knows where the circus will be next until the tents are already erected.  However there are a few people who know the right people and are notified of impending locations.  These rêveurs follow the circus from town to town and notify others by simple little cards that are always black on one side and white on the other.  One of the invitations had “Le Cirque des Rêves” printed on the front in silver ink and on the back, handwritten in black ink on white, the date and location were listed.  I glued together a piece of white and black cardstock to make these invitations.

Black and White Invites


One of my favorite tents was the scent tent.  Hanging outside the tent was a sign, with the words in the picture below, written in elegant calligraphy (after my 8th attempt at penmanship that looked elegant and beautiful, all I could produce was writing that looked like 6th grade cursive).   The ceiling of the tent was black and covered with twinkling lights.   There were collections of small jars, each of them different, filled with scents.   I used my collection of glass bottles and added a variety of essential oils.  Ask your guests to guess the scent and try to recall a memory or feeling that scent reminds them of.   Amazon has a great selection of essential oils from Eden’s Garden.

glass jars, lights

I love how BookPeople decorated the ceiling with black and white crepe paper to resemble a tent when they had a book signing with Erin Morgenstern. For other ideas for a Night Circus Book Club Party check out the BookPeople website.

Black and White crepe paper tent
Other decorations can include tarot cards, along with an instructional manual on how to read them, and a wishing tree.  The wishing tree in the novel had branches that were bare and black and covered with dripping white candles.   A candle is taken from the box at the entrance and lit from one that already burns on the tree.  Your wish is ignited by someone else’s wish.


Dress like the rêveurs (followers of The Night Circus) who were “decked in black or white or grey with a single shock of red:  a scarf or hat, or, if the weather is warm, a red rose tucked into a lapel or behind the ear” (page 142).   Here are a couple of our rêveurs with Erin Morgenstern at The Texas Book Festival.

Texas Book Festival Austin

Other accessories to dress the occasion include a bowler hat, which Marco wore, and a white glove, which one of the members of the circus gave to a trespasser.


Erin Morgenstern has compiled her own Night Circus mix.  I love it!  The sounds are more soothing and mysterious than your typical circus music – but of course, this isn’t your typical circus.


At the thirteenth anniversary party for Le Cirque des Rêves, some of the dishes were served on small mirrors (pg 228).  What a great idea!  The mirrors added more drama as they reflected the twinkling lights and black and white food.  A twist on the candy or caramel apple are the Black and White Mini Apples.   A melon baller is used to make bite size chocolate apples on a stick.

chocolate covered mini apples

Black and White Popcorn is another twist on a favorite circus treat.

Popcorn recipes

At the Night Circus, Chocolate Mice are a favorite treat of Bailey, a devoted circus-goer.  These mice shaped cake balls were made with devil’s food cake and ganache.  If you love chocolate, these are for you!

Chocoalte Mouse, almond slivered ears, licorice tail

If you want to go all out, you can plan your menu around the midnight dinners which were elaborate, multicourse dinners where quail or rabbit or lamb were served on banana leaves or baked in apples or garnished with brandy-soaked cherries (yum!).  For more ideas from these dinners, see pages 55, 65 and 133 and the anniversary party starting on page 226.


  • Which circus tent was your favorite?
  • Did you enjoy the novel as  told from the third person perspective of different characters?  Do you think it would have been a better story if it had been told from only one character?  If so, which one?  What did you think about the interludes told in the second person?  Did it add or distract from the story?
  • The novel also bounces around different time periods.  Did you find it hard to keep track of the dates?  Do you think that was the author’s intention?
  • How did you feel about the other performers of the circus (Isobel, the Burgess sisters, the Murray twins, etc.) who were unknowing participants in the game?
  • If you could have any of the magical powers of the circus performers, which would you choose?
  • What purpose to the story did Frederick and the reveurs serve?
  • Were you surprised by Tsukiko’s revelations?
  • What did you think of Bailey’s decision toward the end of  The Night Circus?  What were the reasons behind his decision?

My Rating:  5 stars  The visual imagery of this novel is superb.  I felt as if I could actually smell the caramel and feel the weight of the magic.  I wanted to run away and join Le Cirque des Rêves.

Picture Erin Morgenstern Texas Book Festival Erin Morgenstern is a writer and a multimedia artist, who describes all her work as “fairy tales in one way or another.” She lives in Massachusetts.  You can visit her blog, Erin’s Emporium of Discount Dreams and Well-worn Wonders (love that name!), at

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