The Night Circus is about the circus, the people who work for it and the people that visit it but Celia and Marco are the reason the circus exists. And so they are the main characters, even if the book puts a spotlight on so many different people.
When Marco and Celia were both very young, Celia’s father and Marco’s mentor, for lack of a better word, wanted to prove that their way of magic and teaching was the best. At least I assume that’s why. It could also be a complicated method of courting and why don’t they just duke it out themselves, I don’t know.
Anyway, they train their students up, practicing child abuse along the way and say they have to face their competitor in a challenge. Of course they don’t tell the children who their competitor is or what the challenge would consist of. The children have a binding oath burned onto their finger so if they even think of not taking part, well, it doesn’t end well for them.
The circus is the challenge it turns out and one of them has to die before it can be completed. Of course, by the point they’ve found this out, they’re in love with each other and neither wants to kill the other. Really Celia’s dad and Marco’s mentor really should have foreseen that considering it happened last challenge as well.
I swear those two might be good at magic (well one of them is a ghost of sorts because he stretched magic too much but that was really his arrogance than his skill) but they suck at people. Telling someone not to fall in love, honestly. Like that ever works.
Anyway. One of the strengths of the Night Circus is the characters. Not just Marco and Celia, but Bailey who doesn’t want to be a farmer for the rest of his life, Wigan and Poppet, the only children born in the circus and who grew up there, the Mr Thiessen, who loves the circus and pays for it with his life and Isobel, Marco’s ex girlfriend who keeps the balance of the circus between the two polar opposites that are Marco and Celia.
I would have been happy if Isobel had got more of a story arc that wasn’t tied up with the circus and Marco and Celia. Seriously, she’s stuck with the competition as much as Marco and Celia simply because Marco led her on. Not sure why but Marco talks about being in love with Celia while he’s still dating Isobel. That is not nice Marco. Really not nice.
I loved the descriptions as well, both of the circus and everything else. Incredibly detailed and rich, the descriptions were beautiful and made me wish the night circus was real.
The rêveurs that followed the circus around and had their own special club with their own special clothing amused me because it sort of reminded me of modern day fandoms. There are the casual fans and then there are the special fans. Not sure whether that was intended though.
A big weakness though was how I was left at the end of the book with confusion about how it ended. I think too much was packed into the book and now I can’t remember half the characters’ names, let along who the person was that got killed by a train halfway through.
It took a really, really long time to get to the main plot of the book and took several detours on the way. I liked seeing all the different characters but it wasn’t helpful to having an easy to follow plot. Not that it can’t be done, just that it wasn’t done here. There was a bit in the middle where I was just reading to finish the book not because I wanted to find out what happened and that’s not a good way for a book to be.
So I give this book three stars because I did like it in the end, but I would only recommend it if I knew that the person enjoyed these types of books. I’m glad I read it but I’m probably not going to reread unless I have the urge to write fanfiction on it or something.