The action of this novel centers around a beautiful, mysterious circus known as Le Cirque des Rêves. It is open only at night, and it contains unimaginable wonders — not only acrobats, contortionists, and exotic animals, but also gardens made entirely of ice and carousels with animals so lifelike that they breathe. In this magical environment, Celia and Marco meet and fall in love. However, unbeknownst to them, they are also rivals: both of them are magicians whose tutors are engaged in a deadly game. As Celia and Marco outdo themselves with feats of magical prowess, they must also find a way to end the “game” without paying an unthinkable price.
I find myself a little conflicted about this book, since I absolutely loved certain aspects of it but found other parts underwhelming. By far the strongest part of the novel is its setting: the Night Circus is described in such specific, evocative, loving detail that I absolutely believed in its magic. I’ve rarely read a book with such lush, awe-inspiring descriptions. By comparison, the plot of the star-crossed dueling magicians, while a wonderful idea in theory, is a bit flimsy in execution. I didn’t particularly connect with any of the characters. Even Celia and Marco are extremely flat, with no particular defining characteristics except for their mutual infatuation. The circus is the heart of the book, but the events and people surrounding it seem almost like afterthoughts. That said, I did enjoy reading the book overall and would definitely read more by Morgenstern. Also, I hope this book is made into a movie and that Baz Luhrmann directs it — it would be gorgeous.