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I remember reading a story a few years ago, maybe around 2015, a small new paperback book, maybe around 300 pages, about a young boy and a young girl with magical talent, who were supposed to show whose the better one. This was supposed to be a proxy competition for their masters who wanted to see whose teaching methods were better.

After a few years of training and without being told about the upcoming proxy competition they both came to a magical circus that magically appeared every few years or so on an open field and disappeared suddenly again. In this circus they were supposed to create their own circus attractions to show how much they have learned and which attractions were the better ones. There were different ones like something involving cards or mirrors, but the one I found the most fascinating was a field of ice. I think there were flowers made of ice, trees made of ice, ... and the description was beautiful. Sadly I am not good enough with words to describe in which ways I found the description fascinating, especially in a language that is not my mother tongue. If I remember correctly the little ice world was one of the creations of the boy.

I read the book in german and I think the word "Zirkus" (meaning circus) was part of the title, but I am not sure.

Random things I still remember:

  • there was a scene with a lot of different foods presented to some people in a manor and it was probably the best descriptions of food I've ever read, though I can't remember what exactly the food was; but especially the dessert sounded delicious
  • they often used a few french words; I am not sure for which words exactly, but I think it was something like "Dream" and "Circus"
  • in the beginning it is shown that the teaching methods are quite different - one was supposed to mainly study on his own with a lot of reading (the boy I think) while the other one was supposed to test her abilities in a normal circus (the girl I think)

I would love to read the book again, especially the part about the ice-related attraction (and the food), but I can't find my copy and I can't remember the exact name. Does anyone know the name of this book?

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. (...)

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