Reader Reviewed Circus of the Unseen by Joanne Owen

Circus of the Unseen

Written by Joanne Owen

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

November 2014 Book of the Month Excitingly different and weirdly wonderful, this feels as though evocative tastes of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Eastern European folklore have been vividly blended together into a modern yet completely unique tale. After the death of her grandmother, Rosie has an accident and finds herself in the curious world of the Unseen Circus, ruled over by Mother Matushka. Mother Matushka is an absolutely fascinating character; capable of being both loathsome and compassionate, she is chillingly unnerving to say the least. The storyline is based on Rosie and the impossible decision she has to make, the author cleverly reveals snippets of information to the reader, at times she leaves Rosie in the dark and you find yourself wanting to shout out a warning to her. The ending has a surprise in store making this, an already memorable, gorgeous tale, unforgettable. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Amelie Chatham, age 12 - 'a mysterious, thrilling adventure that makes you want to die right there in your doorway...This book totally gripped me and I could not put it down.' Read full review >
  • Lucy Minton, age 11 - 'A mystifying book which I truly recommend.'   Read full review >
  • Sophie Bridges, age 11 - 'This book is very interesting and I like it because I like books with adventures and this book is a big adventure.'   Read full review >
  • Tamsin Hindley - 'A very modern and exciting fairy tale - full of interesting ideas and gripping characters.'   Read full review >
  • Jennifer Bridgeman, age 9 - 'The Circus of the Unseen is absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed it, I just couldn't let go of it.'   Read full review >
  • Destiny Maraj, age 13 - 'An excellent novel.  The characters were all very alive and the development of the story was ingenious.  I loved it!'   Read full review >
  • Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 12 - 'This book has action, adventure, folk tales and mystery...The plot was unguessable and the ending had a twist.'   Read full review >
  • Sam Harper, age 10 - 'A fantastical book which pulls you into a strange world packed with mystery and excitement. A great alternative read!'  Read full review >


Circus of the Unseen by Joanne Owen

Staying alive isn't easy in the world of the dead. After an accident at her grandmother's house, Rosie is transported to a strange and sinister world populated by a cast of carnivalesque characters who reside in the Circus of the Unseen. Reigning over them is an old woman called Mother Matushka, who guards the threshold between life and death and has extraordinary powers over all around her. This is an in-between world, a bizarre and trapped existence, but Rosie is not like the others here. She seems to be hovering between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and even seems to have the power to challenge Mother Matushka. Can Rosie escape Mother Matushka's formidable rule and a world in limbo? And can she solve another mystery - one that lies at the heart of her grandmother's life?

About the Author

Joanne Owen

Joanne Owen was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and read Social and Political Sciences with Archaeology and Anthropology at St John's College, Cambridge. Now living in North London, Joanne has published two previous Young Adult novels. Steeped in the atmosphere of nineteenth century Prague, Puppet Master blends the magic of marionette theatre with Czech folklore and legends. Described by The Guardian as 'timeless', Puppet Master was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and Branford Boase award and has been translated into several languages.

Her second novel, The Alchemist and the Angels is a fantastical, historical epic set in sixteenth century Prague, among the plague-ridden ghettos and decadent court of mad Emperor Rudolf. It was described by School Librarian as 'An imaginative tour de force'.

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Book Info


304 pages
Interest Age: From 13


Joanne Owen
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Hot Key Books

Publication date

6th November 2014




Publisher Profile

Hot Key Books is an imprint of Hot Key

logo Hot Key Books, a division of Bonnier Publishing, publish stand out, quality fiction, for 9 – 19 year olds, print and digital that people like to talk about. If you are looking for something a little bit different from your books, something a little bit special then Hot Key Books may well have just what you want.

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