I avoided this book for some time due to two specific reasons: (1) it is surrounded by a lot of hype, almost never a good sign and (2) I hate circuses. The Cirque du Soleil types are fine, I'm talking about the animal exploiting types that readily make me want to protest their presence. Fortunately The Night Circus is not THAT kind of circus (although big cats are mentioned once or twice but never involved in the imagery or discussion). This circus is magical and alluring, deep and exotic. A circus where if you went, you could keep going back and never experience the exact same visit twice (much like this book would be to re-read).
I've said many times that there is rarely, if ever, a truly, wholly original story in this day and age....but I think The Night Circus may have broken the mold. This book is elaborate and opens the imagination to levels a normal book is incapable. This is not generally the type of book I would immerse myself in but it is truly engrossing and beautifully written.
The competition between the magicians is very mysterious and is only truly understood by the instructors of the individual players. We are not privy to all of the information either. The circus is built as a means for them to compete and the circus and individuals involved with it would be unable to survive without the circus and magicians. It is all very intricate and complicated.
Morgenstern created elaborate tents and gives you details regarding them, like a cloud maze. At first you feel completely lost but then you allow your imagination to fill in the gaps and bask in the magic of it. I think the author did a beautiful job at both the presence and absence of description.
The nuances included in the book add up to be important, although while reading you wonder why you are even tagging along with this person or that. I know that despite having finished it I still missed aspects of the intricate details. This is definitely a book to be re-read and enjoyed once more from an entirely different view, especially since you know how it will end and now you'll be prepared to pay attention to things you hadn't.
While I am giving the book 5 stars there were still a couple things that annoyed me (nothing's perfect!). I did not like not knowing if the many point of views I was reading would in the end be important as some were less interesting than others. This resulted in them being more distracting to the story than pertinent. Of course they end up being important in the end but you do not know this while reading it for the first time. I also disliked the back and forth of the dates. To truly keep track you would need a pen and paper. It is not so much that I disliked the changing dates as the number of times they changed, it hindered one's ability to figure out the timeline of events (did that scene between Marco and Celia occur in 1902 or 1889? Etc.)
Overall The Night Circus is whimsical, beautiful, mysterious, engrossing, magical, alluring and so on. I could continue to come up with endless descriptions for the book. I think if nothing else The Night Circus expands your imagination, makes you believe in magic. I look forward to having this book in my collection so I can immerse myself in it over and over.