The Night Circus is deliberately not described well in the synopsis available before you read it. The entire point of the story is keeping the mystery. The book is about a magical competition between two "enchanters" that are bound to the challenge from their childhood. They have no choice in the matter, and they don't have any way of backing out - the competition is only over "when a winner is declared", and neither of them know how that winner will be determined. It's a very strange concept to explain, but they definitely pull it off in the book. Le Cirque des Rêves is a circus that only operates from sundown to sunup every evening, and there is no announcement of its coming to each place - it just shows up. The circus is filled with more than your normal circus fare - there are acrobats with no safety net, a contortionist who can fold herself into a box and close the lid, an enormous carousel with animals to ride that actually breathe, and much more. The entire point of the circus is to be intriguing and mystical.
Celia is the first main character you hear of, who had a "natural talent" that eventually drove her mother crazy so she ends up with her father - he tours the world as Prospero the Enchanter (though his name is actually Hector Bowen). Hector trains Celia in ways to harness her abilities and become stronger her entire life, which leads her to apply as the illusionist when an open audition comes out for the position in Le Cirque des Rêves. Marco begins the story as a young orphan who is adopted by a strange man for no particular reason. The man makes Marco study strange books all day, every day until he finally feels he is ready for his challenge and arranges for him to have a job as the personal assistant of Chandresh Christophe LeFevre, the man who eventually produces Le Cirque des Rêves. Marco and Celia both know they are in a competition of sorts and that their opponent is also involved in the circus, but it takes some time before they realize who they are competing against. The two use their abilities to create amazing new tents to add to the circus that defy natural laws (like gravity and such). Eventually the two start devoting their new work to each other and grow a strong bond. By the time the find out who the other opponent is, they easily fall in love, further complicating their competition.
I know my synopsis makes this sound like a cheesy love story involving magic, but I am actually surprised it was so tastefully done. I didn't want to gag once, lol. The backdrop of this very interesting circus and the people who work their is never dull, and the romance between the two magicians is fairly realistic feeling to read (if you take out all the magic and whatnot). I had no idea what I was getting into, but I really enjoyed reading this. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was transported to a world that I didn't want to leave. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.