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The Pilo Family Circus
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The Pilo Family Circus

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,473 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Jamies tyres squealed to a halt. Standing in the glare of the headlights was an apparition dressed in a puffy shirt with a garish flower pattern It wore oversized red shoes, striped pants and white face paint. It stared at him with ungodly boggling eyes, then turned away... This seemingly random incident triggers a nightmarish chain of events as Jamie finds he is being sta ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Seak (Bryce L.)
I almost hate to recommend this book because ... what does that say about me?

The Pilo Family Circus is both completely creepy and absolutely fascinating. If you like clowns, you might change your mind after this. If you already don't like them, you'll probably think I knew it!

Jamie almost runs down an odd-looking clown and quickly finds his life changing forever. He has 48 hours to pass his "audition" and failing is not an option.

With some creativity, he finds himself in a circus that's strange
...more
Trudi
What a wicked, intoxicating combination of weird, creepy, horrific and funny; the last thing I expected when I picked up this book was to laugh my ass off in parts, doing so was such a bonus. So I can't say this book is going to be for everyone, but if you're looking for something truly different, that's well-written and a bit depraved, then this just might be for you.

The setup: Jamie is a bit of a wanker -- a well-meaning guy, but without much ambition or direction in his life. Let's say he's
...more
Tressa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve Lowe
This is an easy review - this book kicks ass. What a great world Elliott built, full of original characters, and brought to a satisfying, bloody head. Great setup, good execution, fun storytelling. Not the greatest writing in the world, but I'm not deducting much for that because I was too busy digging the story. Read it.
Bandit
This book was so insanely hyped up by my fellow horror aficionados, that it was almost impossible for it to have lived up to all that praise. It did. And then some.
Pilo Family Circus is just so wild, crazy, imaginative, violent, darkly funny, disturbing, infinitely entertaining and more, it reads like an incredibly vivid bizarre dream/nightmare yet it's nearly impossible to put down.
Great cover art too, the malevolent clown on the cover really sets you up for what's to come. Send in the clowns.
...more
Bill
This was quite good.

Anytime I place a book on my to-read list, I make a concentrated effort to avoid knowing any details about the plot. With this one, I was expecting a grim, horrific ride into hell. Well, it wasn't quite that, but surprisingly there were a couple of genuine laugh-out-loud moments.
This was mostly around the beginning of the story, and even though I had gone into this in the hopes of some October scares, it turned out I wanted more laughs as the story went on. Elliott has a grea
...more
Marvin
If nothing else, The Pilo Family Circus will be as original a horror novel as you will ever read. Sporting equal parts of Dante's Inferno and the Barnum & Bailey Circus, Will Elliott's surreal clown story will probably give you nightmares for a few nights. There has always been something dark about clowns and carnivals yet the author up the ante considerably on bad dreams and clown phobias. Part straight horror story and part hallucinogenic nightmare, this is a horror read that won't go away ...more
Bark's Book Nonsense
Jamie is minding his own business when he spots some creepy clowns about town acting more than a wee bit strange. One drops a small bag containing some suspicious powder. When the coast is clear, Jamie picks it up and brings it home.

Well, wouldn’t you?!

This little incident of finders keepers brings the clown smack down upon Jamie and his roomie after the two accidentally ingest some of the clown powder. And there’s nothing funny about it. These clowns aren’t the happy go lucky, nose-honking type
...more
Adam Wilson
The Pilo Family Circus is one of those amazing reading experiences that, even if I forget the fine details in a few years, I will never forget the story and how much fun I had reading it. The book's description was almost enough to make me never want to give it a try since it sounded really, really stupid, but it is anything but. I can't blame whoever wrote the description I read though. I don't think I can explain it any better without making it sound just as bad or even worse. I can only say t ...more
Lea
This was an odd book for me -- while I was reading it I really enjoyed it, but when I wasn't reading it I didn't remember liking it and didn't want to pick it up again.



For the most part, I did like the book, but there were some things that didn't really work for me. I didn't like the Jamie/JJ dichotomy, although it was a decent idea and made for some interesting problems for the characters to work out. The JJ character didn't seem as well developed as I would have liked, though -- I expected (a
...more
christa
If I learned anything from "The Pilo Family Circus" by Will Elliott, it is that you cannot trust the Internet to tell you if a book is good. According to my research, this will be the first negative review of a book that won all sorts of weird Australian awards for fiction, and earned a blurb, through no fault of the author -- I understand -- likening this novel to the works of David Lynch and Chuck Palahniuk.

I'm here to tell blurbologists that just because a writer smears feces on a wall doesn
...more
Edward Lorn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nikki
These crazy clowns cause such a ruckus.
It's not your average circus.
They present false smiles,
in painted faces.
Trip you up
with knotted laces.
They make strange noises,
peeps and whines.
This job ain't no joke.
It's a real crime.
Do what you're told,
Don't make the Pilo's blue.
Step on their toes,
and it's the funhouse for you.

by Nikki

It wasn't my mug of coffee. I didn't get the horror of it all. Yes, it had its psycho moments, but there was a lot of repetition. Boring day in and day out stuff. They put
...more
Bill
I am not entirely sure how to review this one. The story idea was very unique and I thought many of the characterizations were quite excellent. It seemed to be flirting with brilliance, but...

*mild spoilers*

The first few chapters of this started off great and I thought I was in for a brutal and violent clown horror-fest. Then I got to know the clowns a little bit more and they somehow left me wanting a bit. There were definitely a few parts that were laugh out loud funny, but I just couldn’t te
...more
Pamellia
I will properly review this book at a later date. For now, highly recommended.
Benjamin Solah
Will Elliot has rocked the literature market with his outrageously original debut novel, The Pilo Family Circus, about a circus between Brisbane and hell. At its heart, Jamie is dragged into this world and becomes one of the clowns – a bunch of twisted, exaggerating individuals. When Jamie puts on his face paint he becomes JJ, the sickest clown of the all. The face paint flips his personality upside down. This split personality is one of the highlights of the novel as JJ and Jamie struggle to ma ...more
Robert Beveridge
Will Elliott, The Pilo Family Circus (Underland Press, 2006)

I am going to start this review by saying two things that I don't believe I have ever said together in a single review: that this book has some serious flaws, and that it's almost guaranteed to make my best reads of the year list. Yes, despite its flaws (one in particular, upon which I will no doubt dwell like a bobby-soxer mourning the death of Ricky Nelson), this is a book that reaches so far down into the dark places of the human sou
...more
Jason Parent
It's hard to rate this book. On the one hand, Elliot's technique isn't flawless. He makes mistakes that know-it-all literary types would scoff at, that the average reader could give two shits about. But at the same time, Elliot crafts a tale that is wildly imaginative and utterly enjoyable.

So, I give him 4.5 stars, rounded up for the fact that the book is the author's debut novel. Any errors in his craft are minor and probably only caught my eye because I can't help but look for them. They certa
...more
Tracy
I'd been wanting to read this book for awhile and happened across it in a bookstore here in Bangkok. I've read it dozens of times.

The Pilo Family Circus definitely solidified my clown fetish.

I love all the characters, they are original and hilarious, especially Kurt and Gonko. I really want to have fucked up violent sex with Gonko! He seems like he'd be a lot of fun.


One of my favorite scenes that always makes me laugh is when JJ kills the gypsy and Jamie wakes up in his bed covered in blood. Go
...more
Kat
A good idea let down by poor writing.
Really, I think it's a great shame because the creepy atmosphere of the circus was wonderful. I love how the supernatural and malevolent circus overlaps with the mundane real world. The main human character doesn't do much for me but the clowns are fantastic! I love them. The imagery realy stayed with me too, especially Kurt Pilo's teeth crunching and bible obsession. Wow.
But the awful, banal writing made the book such a disappointment, even irritating to r
...more
juan carlos
No tengo palabras para describir este libro, así que lo haré lo mejor posible. Es tétrico, las escenas de asesinato son morbosas y alucinante, ver a este equipo de payasos martirizando y aterrorizando a un pobre adolescente es alucinante. El final sorprendente donde criaturas y mounstruos son los principales elementos del conflicto. Una novela escrita desde el alma de esquizofrenizo y se nota indiscutiblemente. Te atemorizan los parrafos, vuelves a generar una fobia a esta profesión de circo que ...more
Astri
Deeply disturbing and darkly humorous, this novel takes the reader on a deranged train wreck of a journey to the bowels of our own self-made Hell, showing us that the world isn't always so quaint as it seems. I had a hard time putting this down, and was immediately drawn in by its intoxicating pull. Give it a try - you just might see a piece of yourself staring you down.
Ken
Mr Elliot has created a truly original circus that could only come from the mind of a person experimenting in sleep deprivation. I'm not sure exactly what Mr Elliot saw when he approached his sleepless limits. But, what he put on paper was a solid but horrible nightmare of a world inhabited by malicious clowns, sideshow freaks and evil circus owners.

4 1/2 STARS
Maicie
There are things a whole lot scarier than zombies, werewolves, vampires or serial killers. Clowns!

Original, scary and funny as hell. Highly recommended. Also has a great introduction by Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love.
Sonia
I always love circuses and carnivals as a backdrop for dark fiction. While I was not always completely enraptured by Elliott's The Pilo Family Circus, I'm definitely a fan.

The opening of the novel is unique, eerie, surreal. It grabbed me instantly. Shortly after Jamie passes his audition and actually joins the circus, the novel waned for me a bit. His exploration of the different attractions could have been more exciting. I was never all that certain what literary function Steve served by joinin
...more
Ryan Lawler
This was dark, funny, disturbing, violent, and pretty much does all the things that horror should do in delivering a powerfully creepy story. Strange, bizzare, and not afraid to pull any punches, I can see why this book has been so highly decorated in Australia.

The Pilo Family Circus is an engima, a circus living in a bubble on the edge of existence that is able to create gateways from the real world into its showground. The circus seems to survive by capturing the emotions of the people, or tri
...more
Sarah
Impulsively picking up a bag dropped by an oddly-behaved clown after a chance encounter late at night in Brisbane leads Jamie into a world of madness and casual violence as one of the clown troupe at the Pilo Family Circus, a carnival that takes place on a plane somewhere between Australia and the demonic plane. With the application of magic face paint he turns into JJ, a clown as cruel and jeering as the rest of them.

Will Elliot's debut novel is a horror story that will make you wary of carniva
...more
Braden A.
That was very good. Much more dark fantasy than outright horror. Reminds me of much of the dark-fantasy-edging-on-horror of the mid-to-late 80s, by authors like Gaiman and Barker.

Elliott has a clean, crisp voice with which he is able to communicate his ideas very clearly. Perhaps a touch low on style, but concision more than makes up for that.

The parallels to drug addiction and mental disorders are pretty on-the-nose, but it serves the story well as it all feels very much like an elongated fable
...more
selena
I saw The Pilo Family Circus on a rather prominent display at Elliot Bay Books in downtown Seattle. The cover of the menacing clown was quite attractive to me and I couldn’t help but notice that Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love, had written the introduction to the novel. I flipped it over to see what it was about and the paragraph could not be more enticing:

“You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?”

D
...more
Eve
If you need any more points to add to your arsenal of reasons why clowns are psychotic and evil; here you go. Dark, disturbing, hillarious, and creepy; you will find yourself questioning your own sanity as you laugh out loud at the rediculous clown violence in the opening chapters of this book.

Twenty-something Jamie is forced to wear the makeup of JJ, his sick and twisted clown alter ego, and join the Pilo Family Circus. Like the other clowns JJ posseses strang powers and is capable of grotesqu
...more
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Horror Aficionados : Buddy Read- The Pilo Family Circus (Spoilers) 80 56 Jun 26, 2013 06:38AM  
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Will Elliott (born 1979) is an Australian fiction writer who lives in Brisbane, Queensland.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
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