The Night Circus

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Night Circus Book Poster Image
Illusionists compete in dream-like literary romance.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Protagonists Marco and Celia want to be together, but they also want their friends to be happy and their legacy to live on.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A supporting character chooses to follow his dreams and eventually becomes the savior of the circus.

Violence

A supporting character steps in front of a train, and another is accidentally stabbed to death. Neither death is depicted in detail.

Sex

The two protagonists flirt lightly and eventually become lovers, but there is no depiction of sexual activity.

Language

There is one instance of the f-word. Otherwise, there is no swearing.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fantasy novel depicts a circus where two young illusionists compete in some barely understood challenge. Some readers might find the plot slow, while many others will be impressed with how the author builds and maintains an air of suspense and romantic mystery. Also, there is one "f--k" and two deaths, which are not graphically depicted.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybooksz'_' November 11, 2015

Amazing

My 12 year old daughter read it and loved it, which prompted me to read it. It was impossible to put down and a lot of fun to read.
Parent of a 9 and 9 year old Written byEmi B. August 28, 2017

For Mature Readers Only

This was unlike anything else I'd ever read, like a literary Rube Goldberg machine made of steampunk dreams. The story was complex (with an erratically shi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bynoveleater October 14, 2011

Circus story is dream-like with a fun beginning, boring middle, and perfect end

Night Circus completes it's dream (pun intended) of being dream-like with a believable romantic relationship, stunningly realistic characters and a beautif... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymovierocker February 24, 2012

Very well-written book but has some iffy content

The night circus is an amazing, well-written book that gives kids a great late night read. The plot is strong and to kids and adults that love fantasy and circu... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the latter years of the 19th century, Le Cirque des Reves ("Circus of Dreams") travels from town to town cross Europe and America, always arriving without warning and only opening after sundown. The circus is secretly the setting for a contest between two gifted illusionists, Marco and Celia, but neither one knows, at first, who their adversary is or what the exact nature of the challenge might be. As the consequences of the game become clearer, Marco and Celia must decide whether they can pursue their love for each other without destroying themselves or the circus.

Is it any good?

THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a rich, dreamy tale of theatrical enchantment and thwarted love. Erin Morgenstern writes with grace and flair and walks the fine line between the lyrical and the precious. After a while, the nebulous nature of the illusionists' challenge puts a drag on the narrative, but all the elements come together beautifully at the book's climax. The Night Circus is reminiscent of the best of Ray Bradbury, though without his darkest edge.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how circuses provided entertainment to large groups of people before the invention of motion pictures or television. How do modern audiences respond to circuses today? Do social media and amateur video make it easier or more difficult for circuses, magicians, and other performers?

  • The Night Circus is unusual that it never begins its performances before sundown. What is it that makes nighttime activities feel special?

  • A group of enthusiasts follows the circus from town to town. What kinds of popular artists attract such fans today? Is such devotion always healthy?

  • The illusionists feel conflicting responsibilities to themselves and the circus itself. How do people today balance their various responsibilities?

Book details

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