The Night Circus
I'm going to start by saying The Night Circus is enchanting, truly and I really think you should read it. Particularly if you enjoy books that are set in the 1800's or at the turn of the century and have that "Victorian style" to them as I do. Erin Morgenstern has pulled that literary effect off really well.
From the start, the descriptions of the circus allow your creative imagination to run wild, it only opens at night, it has monochrome tents, a massive bonfire, hot sweet treats, a contortionist covered in tattoed symbols, a wishing tree, an ice garden and other such magical displays await within each tent.
At first it is difficult to see how the circus intersects with the other story we are introduced to. Two children, Celia Bowen and an unnamed boy, are sworn into combat against each other at a young age, a battle of two mentors in a case of nature versus nurture, their task is to grow up learning the craft of magic and to become practitioners, entering into a challenge when the moment arrives.
The moment arrives with the circus. The circus becomes that arena.
The Night Circus is brilliant. Enchanting really is the best way of describing it. All the characters have that certain je ne sais quoi, that piques your interest in them and keeps it there. You never really know any of them fully, but, that's part of the point, they have a mystique and that's why they are intriguing.
I loved the relationship between Celia and Marco as it unfolds but was frustrated with the fact that they both misunderstand the nature of the task at hand, seeing it as a talent contest rather than a duel.
A duel element with their competitive mentors assuming more of an influence may have given this novel a darker edge. But again, the fact that the darker edge it does develop in another way, perhaps negates this, but I still would have liked to have seen an aspect of it, at least at the start.
I loved all the characters and the fact that the contest had far reaching and sinister overtones. I would recommend this book to anyone, and will probably buy it for friends. 10/10