Two young students locked into a magical competition, the rules of which neither understands, do battle with feats of astounding imagination powered by their ill-advised romance. Their stage is the mysterious Cirque des Rêves, a circus of dreams that appears only at night, and travels the world with no set schedule. Peopled with clockwork ciphers, the real heartbeat of Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, is not in the love affair between the doomed rivals turned lovers—each of whom can only win by killing the other—but in the circus itself. With its breathtaking displays of magic and sumptuous illusions, it’s a setting so richly detailed and beguiling it becomes an indelible character. The Night Circus, published in the U.S. in 2011, is being developed into a film by Lionsgate. —Aryn Baker

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