Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Adult magic/fantasy
Firstly, I want to point out that I went into this novel without knowing anything about it. I did not even read the back. Honestly, I would recommend doing the same thing, as to me it was part of the mystery of the novel. Even though this review will be spoiler free - I won't talk about anything that is not in the blurb - a tiny bit of the plot is revealed in the next paragraph.
So first, a minor summary: Cecilia is six years old when her father enrols her in a challenge. She has no clue what the exact rules are, nor does she know who her opponent is, or even when and where the game will take place.
There are many aspects to this novel I adored, and only few I did not. As I want this review to end on a happy note, I plan to discuss the negative parts first. This mostly has to do with the pace. I felt the story progressed rather slowly throughout the first 3/4th. Now, I did not mind that at all, although it did give me the impression it took forever to get through. Then the final, say, 100 pages, all of a sudden went extremely fast which resulted in only little explanation of what was going on, even though I felt that especially the events could do with some more explanation. While the magic throughout the novel felt quite realistic, as far that's possible, in the end I simply couldn't wrap my head around it.
Apart from that, the novel is near perfect - Morgenstern's writing is easy, yet beautiful. The description of both environment (the circus, wow!) and characters is impeccable; even non-magical things sounded magical in her words. The mystery, the suspense, it was all so well thought through it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The novel takes place over quite some years and thus character development is certainly something to be expected in this story. While this is not really done explicitly, when looking back at the main characters, there are certainly some changes in personality, all of which understandable and realistic, adding to the strange sense of familiarity and credibility created in this novel.
What weirdly enough also contributes to this, is the magical feeling of the circus. We want to visit it so badly, perhaps even join it - experience the magic from up close. Never before have I been engrossed in a world so much that I felt such a strong desire to be there. It is difficult to explain how exactly that makes the world more believable, but trust me, it does.
All I really have left to say is that I want all of you to read this beautiful tale. It is not quite fantasy, but too much magic for magical realism. So don't think it's not your cup of tea because you don't like either of those. Also, this is not young adult. For content, there really is no reason, but I do believe it is a bit more sophisticated in plot and writing than your average YA.