Some books are clever stories. Some are sad stories. Some are romantic stories. Some are strange, disturbing stories. Some are incredible flights of fancy. Some books have magic. Some have dramatic, historical settings. And some books are exquisite, remarkable works of art to be enjoyed and admired through the ages. The Night Circus is all of these.
With its shifting points of view, present-tense style, and somewhat non-linear presentation of events, The Night Circus will either pull you in or put you off from the beginning. In my opinion, the writing is brilliant. Like the circus itself, it draws you in with its unique flavors and setting. It has a rich quality to it that makes the black-and-white theme more striking than stark, the moments of color brilliant, and the characters real and alive. The descriptions of food and clothes are particularly imaginative and delightful.
The circus is a venue for a dramatic magician's duel: two opponents pitted against each other from a very young age by their instructors. The rules of the game are left somewhat vague, as is the determination of the winner. Meanwhile, those who experience the circus are completely fascinated by it and changed by the experience...while those involved with the circus remain remarkably unchanged. The opponents display their skills and work around each other and the other members of the circus as the game becomes an intricate, complicated process that eventually spirals toward a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.
If you're looking for a uniquely pleasing reading experience, try The Night Circus. I would recommend it particularly for book clubs because all the nuances invite discussion. I will say that I chose to read it in small doses because I found it overwhelming if I read too much at once. It's quite a book.