The Night Circus is a 2011 fantasy novel, Erin Morgenstern's debut. I borrowed my copy from The Younger Son, who had not brought the dust jacket with him. This plot description and the photo above are from Wikipedia:
The Night Circus is a phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an ahistorical Victorian London in a wandering magical circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise. Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, features such wonders and "ethereal enigmas" as a blooming garden made all of ice, acrobats soaring without a net, and a vertical cloud maze where patrons who get lost simply step off and float gently to the floor. The circus has no set schedule, appearing without warning and leaving without notice; they travel in a train disguised as an ordinary coal transport. A network of devoted fans styling themselves "rêveurs" ("dreamers") develops around the circus; they identify to each other by adding a splash of red to garb that otherwise matches the characteristic black and white of the circus tents. The magical nature of the circus is occluded under the guise of legerdemain; the illusionist truly transforms her jacket into a raven and the fortune teller truly reads the uncertain future, and both are applauded for their ingenuity.I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys modern fantasy books. I think it needs illustrations in the manner of Clive Barker's Abbarat series.
The circus serves a darker purpose beyond entertainment and profit. The magicians Prospero the Enchanter and the enigmatic Mr. A.H— groom their young proteges, Celia Bowen and Marco Alistair, to proxy their rivalry with the exhibits as a stage. ...
The NYT says, "The novel is —and it’s an odd thing to say about a work of fiction— just too real to be believed." The Washington Post says, "Morgenstern manages to conjure up a love story for adults that feels luxuriously romantic." NPR talks some about the hype surrounding the books publication, saying, "Film rights have already gone to Summit (the studio behind the Twilight phenomenon), and over 30 countries have bought foreign language rights."
The Guardian says,
The Night Circus is a sprawling historical novel about magic and the circus. Highly whimsical, it is a narrative so wilfully contrived that contrivance is its raison d'être. It is intensely visual, so much so that what remains in its wake are almost exclusively images – more so than plot, or character, or even the prose itself. Morgenstern paints precise, evocative and visually lush scenes within the tents of her fictional circus. Reading the novel is, in this respect, more like watching a film in the making – not an ordinary film, however, but an imaginative collaboration between writer and reader.