The Night Circus Book Poster Image

The Night Circus



Illusionists compete in dream-like literary romance.

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
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

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.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Erin Morgenstern
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:September 13, 2011
Number of pages:390

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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 beautifully planned out end. The story tells of a magic circus that arrives with no warning at night, opens at night, and closes at Dawn, where the traveling group end on to a new town. But not only is it a circus, it is the battle field for a powerful battle between two illusionists, who's powers are quite real. But the two fall in love, head over heels, like a dream. They play with the rules and dance the dance dangerously, not realizing one will have to die for the other to be claimed victor. The writing is really well done and really well planned out. Each word is crafted perfectly like a pro at work, some may be surprised to find this is the author's first try. The story is unique and fun, with enough romance to keep love birds coming back, with enough symbols and metaphors for a english teacher, enough action to keep fantasy lovers flipping the pages, and enough heart to impress anyone. The only part that this book fails at, is keeping all of the pages relating to each other. The middle sags at places, and the book loses heart for it. I found myself drifting at parts, but the writing kept me coming back, and the competition was exciting enough. The book, I feel is perfect length, not to short to want to slow down the reading process, but long enough not to want more. The book is not only for adults, I am a teen and I really enjoyed it. The book was impressive. I don't think the author had to make the ending so.... so like a fairy tale. It is kind of annoying, but the last chapter is wonderful, making me call it perfect. The book is kind of violent, in one awesome scene, a knife is thrown, stopping time! (so cool!) A character walks out into a train, and is killed. The fact that Celia and Marco have to kill each other keeps on coming up at parts. Other than that, the book isn't all over the top on violence, which I like. In one scene Marco kisses Celia all over the body. Something like him licking her or something. There are kisses and sweet romance, but many of them aren't compleatly explored. The word F*** is used once, and it is randomly surprising. The word d*** is used four times. Two times to explain the competition. A character smokes, and characters smoke. The story is sweet and I will be keeping my eye on the author, after all, a book by Erin Morgenstern arrives without warning...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
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 circus's, this book is great! Their is some language that includes Celia's father calling her a s*** and a w****, and the f-bomb is in there twice. I don't know why common sense media says their is little sex and love becuase their is. There is one scene where Celia and Marco strip down and it describes that Marco is licking the traces of Celia's body. But overall, this is a very good book for anyone who loves a great night read.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byredhead034 February 26, 2012

One of the best books I've read

I really loved this book, it was one of the best ones I have read in a while. Personally, I loved the plot, it wasn't slow. There is some violence but its not depicted in detail. There's also a short sex scene, but that's not detailed either. It was a great love story that didn't have predictable ending. This is by far one of my favorite books; it had just the right amount of super-natural, romance and fantasy. The fantasy/circus aspect of the novel was fantastic; I love circuses and really wanted to go to the circus in the book, it was described in such good detail. All in all, a fantastic book and a must-read.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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