A nocturnal circus is the venue for a contest between two magicians. The plot of this story is enjoyable but not exceptional. There is a love story which I found not to be compelling at all. There is a separate plot with a young man finding his way which took a while to find its way (but did, eventually). Again, these plots are enjoyable enough but not enough by themselves to recommend the book. Some characters are compelling (Celia, one of the magicians) while others remain flat (Marco, the other magician).
BUT the circus itself is fabulous. Not since the Cemetery of Lost Books (from Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game) have I encountered such an enchanting, exciting locale. The circus is only open at night, and new tents and wonders are continually added. This book is worth reading just for the circus, which is the main and by far the most intriguing character.
Jim Dale continues to be the best reader in the business for fantastical tales; if you don’t know what I’m talking about run (don’t walk) and listen to him reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Note on content: The book has exactly one swear word as well as I can remember (an f-word, right near the beginning). There is one intimate scene portrayed briefly and in very figurative terms (e.g., “he covered her body with kisses”).