What’s it about?
The Night Circus is kind of a romance, kind of a fantasy novel, and it’s a lot about glamour. There are two magicians older than we can know, who are in constant competition. Every so often, they each choose a student to compete against the other until one can no longer stand it. The remaining magician is the winner. For this particular competition Celia and Marco are both constructing a fabulous circus. It has amazing things – a tent that is only ice, a fire that never goes out – and its performers never age. Celia and Marco, of course, fall in love. So how will the competition end? Who wins? It’s worth the read to find out.
Why should you read it?
I mentioned glamour above. Glamour is an idealization. Glamour is beauty – these are both very lovely people. The circus, to its visitors, is graceful and mysterious. But what makes it not glamorous to the readers is that we see how it works. We see what it does to Marco and Celia to create this circus and keep it running. They do not lead rich, full lives. And glamour is also about sprezzatura, the art of making an idealization (the circus) appear easy. The circus is work and it wears on our heroes and it is not hidden. You should read The Night Circus because it can make you think about what goes into amazing creations, be they books or movies or buildings. It can be worth asking: what’s edited out? Why? What does the circus’ audience see? What do we see?