Erin Morgenstern's highly-acclaimed debut novel The Night Circus is the story of two innately gifted magicians, Celia and Marco, secretly bound together from a very early age to compete against each other within a circus that appears only at night. They are unaware of the identity of their opponent for most of their formative years, and during that time, fall in love with each other. The entire scheme is an outworking of two rival veteran magicians who have pitted them for battle, and love was not in the cards.
The novel is structured in a very unique, non-linear way. To say it is disjointed would sound too negative. Collaged, perhaps, would be more appropriate. Each chapter begins with a sub-heading describing the location and date. Without these I would have been lost -- I kept turning back and referring to them. Another thing a reader must get straight before going too far in the book is that the "magic" performed is real, for the most part. Especially as performed by Celia and Marco. It is camouflaged as illusion, but it is real.
And so, in this sense, the novel is definitely of a fantastic nature. One must be prepared for this before you're already at the ticket booth -- and just let yourself go into it, or you will have no fun at all.
Me being a die-hard realist when it comes to literature said to myself several times, "Where is Tolstoy when you need him?" This book might not be the thing for everyone out there -- you've really got to check your realism issues at the door. You've got to join this thing, this Night Circus.
But I found it rather rewarding, and definitely an escape, to do just that.