I loved this book. When I finished it, I just wanted to sit and think about it a bit more rather than reaching for my next book (which is often my norm).
This book spans quite a few years and jumps back and forth in time sometimes offering a date but often it does not. You only know you are reading the past as it concerns the circus because of the age of certain characters. The main dates given are between the late 1800's and into the early 1900's.
The way the book jumps around in time, enhances the mystery surrounding the circus and the people involved. Some things are magical, some are not, some are merely enhanced by magic. The magic is not base trickery but real transformations as well as illusions that are broadcast into the minds of the viewers rather than a masque of sorts.
The Night Circus opens at dusk and closes at dawn. It's official name is Cirque de Reves, The Circus of Dreams. The circus itself is a character that is alive. We are given the story of the Circus from a variety of perspectives. I really enjoy the parts that are addressed to us, the readers. With this perspective, you understand that the circus could be something long ago or something that will appear in your town next week.
Within the story is a romance, as well as love that a child might have for a parent (albeit an abusive one), the love of friends and the love for the Circus. The way the book ends, it does not lend itself to a sequel but leaves the reader dreaming of the possibilities unwritten. The possibilities of the lives continued and of the possibility of the Night Circus in their town, now.