The Night Circus has elements of fantasy and historical fiction, but really it is, as the author describes her own writing, a fairy tale. It chronicles the impossible but inevitable love of opponents in a game of magic. The story has many tangents—some of which are followed up and some of which seem to be red herrings. I think this was intentional on the part of the author to mirror the idea of going to a circus or a carnival and being caught up in and amazed by what you see. Morgenstern leads the reader through a fun house or maze that seems very complicated. But the heart of the story remains simple: a man and woman who have no business falling in love do and they have to struggle to come up with a way to stay together.
As a reader, I was fully invested in the beautiful and mysterious world that Morgenstern created for the circus. I wanted to eat the fabulous dishes at Chandresh Lefevre’s Midnight Dinners and wear gowns that change colors to compliment the people I am standing closest to and never grow old (or at least age at an alarmingly slow rate) and see the contortionist who can bend in both forward positions and backward and be a patron of the circus that only opens at sundown and moves across the globe. The description, imagery, and word choice are absolutely fabulous throughout. I would recommend this to either an older teenager or at least one that is a very strong reader because the story and language are complex. However, this novel is extremely rewarding for the reader who is willing to continue to follow in the maze of the plot. It has many twists and turns, but often the writing and the descriptions are so spectacular that I did not want to put the book down.