The Night Circus is an oddity. It begins in second person – you know, the point-of-view using “you” as the subject, made famous in Choose Your Own Adventure Novels – and though it doesn’t remain, it does jump back to it in transitional chapters. Much of the rest of the novel is pure atmosphere. And I don’t think it would work if that atmosphere weren’t so wickedly entrancing. Luckily for it, and the reader, this is the kind of world one wants to be enveloped in. You want to be in it, so the direct address is an invitation to come in and stay awhile.
At it’s heart, The Night Circus is about star-crossed lovers who just happen to also be in a magical duel to the death. There are subplots to weave a semblance of story together, but that’s not what you should be reading it for. To add a bit of suspense to the mix, the plot is told nonlinearly.
Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, which is the magical duel’s arena, is a designer’s dream world. It’s a joy to imagine. I’m not a fan of descriptive imagery that doesn’t have some metaphorical purpose to it. Most of the imagery here was simply establishing and maintaining the mood, but I never minded it.
I would suggest this one to anyone 12 and older who might have thought Twilight was just too mainstream.