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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

The Night Circus

Today, a pre-publication review of one of the most buzzed-about debuts of the fall. The Night Circus releases on September 13th, but the advanced reader copy was featured at both BookExpo and ALA earlier this summer. After reading, it was obvious that Erin Morgenstern was the perfect debut author to feature in this month’s SLJ Teen Newsletter. Enjoy the interview, which I hope reveals just enough about the book and the author’s influences without giving too much away.

And I say that because the real joy of this novel is discovering its world and the people who inhabit it. Just like walking through the gates of Morgenstern’s magical circus, opening the pages of this book begins a full sensory experience. It’s absolutely wonderful and ruining the process for the reader would be criminal. It takes a while to figure out how all the pieces fit together, and it was great fun imagining the possibilities along the way.

This world of illusion and dark magic will entrance teen readers, and I predict its fans will want to visit it over and over again.

MORGENSTERN, Erin. The Night Circus. 384p. Doubleday. Sept. 2011. Tr $26.95. ISBN 978-0-385-53463-5. LC number unavailable.  The Night Circus

Adult/High School–When Celia is five, a lawyer drops her off at the New York theater where the father she has never met performs as an illusionist. Prospero the Enchanter is hardly pleased–until she shatters a teacup in her distress without touching it. She has inherited his abilities. He arranges to meet with an old rival, and a contest is agreed upon. The man finds his own player, Marco, a London orphan. Years of isolation and instruction for both children follow. Then, in the late 1880s, the Cirque des Rêves appears and disappears on the outskirts of towns and cities across the world without notice, open only from dusk to dawn. It becomes a sensation. This is no three-ring circus, less a show than an invitation to explore the tents that seem to go on and on, each a unique, immersive experience combining illusion and dark magic. In 1897, Bailey, an ordinary boy living in Concord, Massachusetts accepts a dare from his sister to sneak into the Cirque des Rêves during the day. And there he meets his destiny. The thrill and mystery of this novel is in piecing together these elements, and in discovering the talents and powers of its players. Morgenstern maintains forward momentum, pacing the revelations perfectly, even while allowing readers to pause in wonder at her creations, to experience the circus itself. When Celia and Marco finally meet face-to-face, they fall in love. Will they ever be free of their mentors, free to be together? Teens are the perfect audience for their story, especially since the circus has a strange effect on time and they seem to remain forever young.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. Hi Angela!
    I’m looking for a resource for librarians that gives them an indication of the appropriateness of certain books for high school libraries and age groups.. do you know where I can find it?
    Thank you!

  2. Angela Carstensen says:

    Hi Fernanda,
    Personally, I use reviews from mutiple sources — SLJ, Booklist, Horn Book. All of these include age recommendations in their reviews. The Horn Book Guide collects reviews into one resource twice a year, so that might well be what you need.

    This blog recommends adult books for high school age readers. Some contain mature content or language, some do not. We assume that each librarian will consider their own community when choosing books for their collections.

    Hope this is helpful! I wasn’t exactly sure what you were asking — so please reply if you need anything further!


  3. It was total pleasure to read. I found myself spell-bound by The Night Circus. There was romance, but not lusty. There was total enchantment, and not far out to burst your bubble. what a pleasure this was to read.