I love reading fantasy novels - I found this book on the recommendation shelf at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Since I worship the ground that store is built on, I don't take their recommendations lightly.
I had a hard time in the beginning of the book because there is so much detail and there are quite a few characters to become acquainted with. But about halfway through the book really got me, so don't get discouraged if you read this and have the same experience. Morgenstern's writing style has that indescribable little 'something' that gives great visuals and mentally takes you inside the world of the mysterious night circus. The night circus is created from pure magic to be the setting for a lifelong duel between two gifted magicians, neither of whom know who their opponent actually is. Many characters weave into the story and are at risk in this magical fight to the death. The magicians must figure out a way to complete and end the duel without one of them having to lose their lives, and try to do it without bringing anyone else in harm's way.
Overall, the pieces of the story didn't all fit together perfectly - there were parts that felt a little thoughtless, like she had a great intricate story built in her mind but didn't quite connect all of the dots on paper. However, after I digested it I realized I really liked it that way... it left room for me to use my imagination and try to impart my own meaning to the story. A love story mixed with intrigue and magic - it's definitely worth a read!