I recently had the pleasure of reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It is a delightful book that has been getting a lot of great press and is well deserving of the attention.
The novel unfolds much the same way that the circus does: deliberately. Both evolve over time, seeming to be one thing at the beginning and by the end becoming much much more. Each chapter of The Night Circus is cleverly composed, and details are chosen with the utmost care. Each detail feels like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle and we are all (reader, author, characters) putting it together as one.
"The circus is the venue" and the vehicle of the novel. It is what drives the plot and sustains the characters. Its mystery and magic keeps the reader turning pages just like it keeps the reveurs (devoted followers of the circus who wear all or mostly black clothes with bright red scarves to distinguish themselves) coming back night after night.
The story is told in present tense which only adds to the excitement and suspense. It makes the reader feel as though she is in the moment with the characters and at Le Cirque du Reves anything can happen in that moment.
Morgenstern also does a great job of bringing in characters who should be completely separate from the circus and binding them to the place in irreversible ways. Though this doesn't always have a pleasant ending, it adds to the accessibility of the story -- anyone can be a reveur. The second person passages sprinkled throughout the book do this too, driving home the point that this circus (and this book) is for everyone.