I'm sorry, dear reader, to disillusion you. 'The Night Circus' is nothing it purports to be.
# The premise
Now, I know what the book description says: 'a fierce competition between the sorcerer's apprentice and the enchanter's daughter'. But let me tell you, there is nothing 'fierce' about this novel. ESpecially not the competition.
Basically, it's about Marco and Celia growing up without ever having seen each other or knowing about the 'competition'. (Actually, the readee doeasn't either, even after reading this book. Morgenstern simply doesn't bother to explain the POINT of her masterpiece.)
Throughout almost the whole book, Marco and Celia barely interact or encounter each other, and Celia only finds out in the other half of the book that he is actually her competitor. Meanwhile, their 'fierce' competition consists in adding new tents to the circus or other minor additions. There was not once the hint of a struggle or anything nearly as interesting. God forbid the book actually got some suspense.
So much for the premise.
# The pacing
Are you kidding me?
Whatever 'The Night Circus' has, it certainly isn't pacing.
The 400 pages span a time frame of approximately 40 years, which, yes, you calculated correctly, makes about an event every two years. If that doesn't kill the pacing, I don't know what does.
Oh, I almost forgot. Morgenstern actually insists on making it worse by adding an offset smaller story, whose sequences are thrown in carelessly throughout the book, without giving you any ability to place them or having any connection to the main story.
I dare you to call this pacing.
# The plot
*sigh*, Did I mention already that every once every two years something remotely interesting might happen?
Generally, there really is no plot. I refuse seeing a slow, dragging back and forth which streches like chewing gum and simply refuses to end as a plot. This book almost only consists of descriptions. They are everywhere, although I admit they might have been nice to read if every once in a while there would have been some action scattered in between. But that obviously would have been fatal because then 'The Night Circus' would have gotten fascinating and as I already commented Morgenstern is working by all means against that.
Apart from that, the plot revolves around dozens of insignificant side characters, which later might or might not play minor roles in the book.
So little surprise here, with all the focus on everything but the main story, it tends to get somewhat confusing every now and then, which also emerges from Morgenstern's lack of explaining.
# The characters
Meh. Just meh.
Too many of them, not enough elaborate.
If I'm honest now, I can't even remember all their names properly anymore.
Marco and Celia, the protagaonists, are as flat as they come. Neither of them are particularly likeable or profound.
Don't even get me started on the 'romance'. For three thirds of the book (~30 years), Celia and Marco neither acknowledge one another nor do they communicate by any means but at one point - must've been magic - thye decide they are in love. No explanation whatsoever.
I can't see why they would even like each other, but well, Morgentsern obviously consequently keeps following the the-less-you-know-the-better rule.
Overall, I can't recommend this book. If you are a fan of descriptions and both suspense- and senseless plots, you might enjoy this. I'd still recommend you to borrow it instead of buying it, though.