First of all, can we please appreciate the splendor that is the author's sirname? Morgenstern is a fantastic name--I saw it and immediately thought of Shakespeare's Guildenstern. But anyway.
The Night Circus is a unique book; a unique reading experience. It is difficult for me to explain to you whether I enjoyed it or not, as I am not entirely sure myself. The story is certainly imaginitive and well portrayed, of that there is no doubt. Perhaps I am unsure because the book didn't really speak to me as my favourite fantasy tales (my all-stars) do. It was interesting but not overly exciting; beautiful but not breathtakingly so. I don't know.
The circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, is definitely wonderful. The multiple stories being told (in multiple points in time no less) are elegantly intertwined to keep you guessing. The plot twists are well displayed when their times come.
The shockers are effective, particularly because the narration is so mild, calm and dreamlike most of the time. The moments of violence have you taken aback, as do the sudden bursts of extreme sadness (poor dear Herr Freidrick Thiessen :().
To be honest, I rather enjoyed most of the book. The only element that really bothered me was the romance--and it wasn't because of the romance. I don't mind romance when it is intermingled with more exciting developments, and when it is written in such a way that it is interesting rather than sappy. I suspected from the beginning that Celia and Marco would end up falling in love--it was kind of inevitable from my point of view. But I had hoped that when it came to it, the writing would be a pleasant surprise, rather than an imitation of the cheesy, overdramatic romance novels that I so despise. I speak, of course, of the moments when Celia and Marco are alone, and they tranform from clever, fascinatingly magical characters into unlikely sap-poetry-spewing nobodies. I am sorry if you disagree, but this is something that could have ruined the entire experience of reading this book for me...
...if it weren't for the development of my favourite character. Bailey Clarke was not my favourite character from the beginning--in fact when he first appeared, as a child, I expected his story to be like the reader's part in the book (the "you" segments)--that of an observer of the circus, an outsider. But he turns out to be just as important as--possibly more than--any of the members of the circus. When he finds the empty field and knows that the circus has left early, it's kind of an "aww" sad moment for the reader, because, at least for me, I was excited for him to go and find his future with the circus. But he does not give up--he literally follows his dream--and I almost felt proud of him for it. And his part is so much more than what he expected.
The rêveurs are an interesting element of the story. Immediately upon their first appearance, I was struck by how much like nerdfighters they are. People brought together by common interests and binded into lasting friendships. And Bailey's experience meeting some rêveurs for the first time is not unlike one's first experience at a nerdfighter gathering, or even going on the Ning chat. A pleasant surprise that there are other people like you, who share your love of life and of dreams and of stories--and in Bailey's case, of the Night Circus.
I liked the "you" segments strewn throughout the novel--because they are the only sections not headed by a date, I was constantly puzzling over what point in time they are meant to be set. It is clear at the end, however, that those segments are left without dates because they are meant to represent your own present--the reader's present--and in so doing, illustrate the the fact that Le Cirque des Rêves is neverending. And if it does end, it will not happen in the lifetime of anyone who reads this book.
I think it is entirely up to you whether you wish to pick up The Night Circus and give it a try (shush I know it's always up to you). All I can say is that my experience reading it was not a waste of time, and I hope you are not deterred simply by my dislike of sappy romance.