The Night Circus

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

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 18 reviews

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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.


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


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


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

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 byM in London September 8, 2019

Tedious competition

Might have been enjoyable if shorter, but just tedious at nearly 500 pages. Dramatic tension wears thin throughout.
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
Kid, 12 years old October 25, 2020

Very Lovely Story

This story is pretty long. The beginning is a tab bit slow so you get children may not find it as interesting. A few characters die, but is not explained to muc... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySeleno_Sofia March 22, 2020

Great Book; can bore little ones

This book is amazing, it is very descriptive and beautiful. However, this book is a commitment. It takes a while to get hooked but when you do it is amazing. Th... 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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