Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Pilo Family Circus” as Want to Read:
The Pilo Family Circus
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Pilo Family Circus (The Pilo Family Circus #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  1,791 ratings  ·  249 reviews
"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?"

Delivered by a trio of psychotic clowns, this ultimatum plunges Jamie into the horrific alternate universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between Hell and Earth from which humankind’s greatest tragedies ha
Paperback, 300 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Underland Press (first published August 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Pilo Family Circus, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Pilo Family Circus

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternWater for Elephants by Sara GruenGeek Love by Katherine DunnSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburyThe Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket
Circus/Carnival Books
14th out of 276 books — 653 voters
Farsighted by Emlyn ChandThe Next Thing I Knew by John CorwinPerpetual Night by Georgina MoralesWired by Martha R. CarrThe Vivisector by Patrick White
Creepy Covers
8th out of 141 books — 144 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
May 22, 2015 Shelby *wants some flying monkeys* rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shelby *wants some flying monkeys* by: Edward Lorn
A book about psychotic clowns? I couldn't resist that one!

Jamie is pretty much an everyday guy. He lives with one stoner and grocery stealing friends in an apartment. Works a normal job. Then he starts seeing some clowns running around and one of them drops a bag of weird powder. Jamie takes that bag.

The clowns get angry that Jamie has their bag and start paying him visits. Then they leave him a note.

You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, Feller. You're joini
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Nelson
Now the Pilo Family Circus isn’t your usual slapstick circus affair and you don't find it intentionally, whether you're looking or not. And trust me when I say you really don't want to visit this place, every act has a purpose and it definitely isn't to entertain the Fuck out of you.

Jamie, driving home from work late one night, almost runs down a pedestrian. No ordinary bystander this guy's dressed in clown getup right down to the white face and fake red nose. What he remembers most was the abso
Re-read (May, 2015)

This book is every bit as exciting as I remembered it being! The author's personal experiences were a strong influence in his writing of the personality changes between Jaimie, and JJ--his clown, alter-ego.

Not much more to say on this one other than I will definitely be reading it again in the future!

Highest recommendation!
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
A good horror novel with an interesting plot and plenty of macabre humour, The Pilo Family Circus mixes violence, slapstick, and a smidgen of H.P. Lovecraft together to good effect. In the story, Jaime is a perfectly normal, fairly meek twentysomething working as a concierge and spending his time daydreaming about hooking up with his beautiful co-worker. Then he meets "the clowns" and it all changes. Like a psychotic version of the Three Stooges in face paint, the clowns begin by terrorizing Jai ...more
11811 (Eleven)
I missed my calling. Shoulda been a clown.

Read March 2013 and May 2015.
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
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.
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.
Rebecca McNutt
Back in 2010, my family and I were camping in my favorite province, Nova Scotia. We stopped at this little thrift shop. My sister and I went into this back room, and on the shelves, was something we never expected to see, something horrible, something terrifying, devastating, evil… over fifty porcelain clown dolls were on the shelves, staring back at us! You know those clown dolls that no matter where you are in the room, it always seems like they’re looking right at you? Yup, there they are! We ...more
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
Edward Lorn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
Ms. 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
A fantastic read, completely imaginative and mesmerizing. So many of my Goodreads friends on HA had hyped this one up that I broke down and bought the novel. Once again I was not let down.
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
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
Gregor Xane
An excellent debut. A pleasure to read throughout, although I did feel a bit sullied at times while reading it.
David Brian
Rounded up to 3.5 stars.
On one of the threads I referred to The Pilo Family Circus as bizarro light; well, it is certainly bizarre. It started promisingly enough with lunatic clowns on the rampage, and this raised many interesting questions.

The main protagonist is Jamie, and the book centers around his exploits after he is drawn into the Pilo circus. It was certainly an interesting premise but, for me at least, the whole thing got a bit too weird.

Certainly, after a decent start, and a middle se
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
I expected this book to be 'Bizarro,' but it wasn't. It was bizarre, though. I normally hate the combination of two authors kind of comparison, but: if Clive Barker and Christopher Moore decided to write a magic circus novel together, this would be it.

And YES, it's as good as it sounds.
I will properly review this book at a later date. For now, highly recommended.
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
There were so many gushing reviews and comments about this book that I thought for sure I'd be in for a treat!


If I took the good ideas from this story and mixed them with the good ideas from The Immortal Circus (another "dark circus," disappointing read), there'd be a fairly decent story. Not great, mind you, but better than both of these anyway.

One of my major issues with this (and it was the same with The Immortal Circus) is that the protagonist is neither compelling nor rea
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Horror Aficionados : Buddy Read- The Pilo Family Circus (Spoilers) 80 62 Jun 26, 2013 06:38AM  
  • The Summer I Died
  • Dead Sea
  • Let's Go Play At The Adams'
  • The Bleeding Season
  • A Choir of Ill Children
  • The Sorrow King
  • Dweller
  • The Jigsaw Man
  • Last Days
  • The Unblemished
  • House of Houses
  • The Best of Joe R. Lansdale
  • Hell Train
  • Kin
  • Piecemeal June
  • Angel Dust Apocalypse
  • Cursed
  • The Imago Sequence and Other Stories
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.
More about Will Elliott...

Other Books in the Series

The Pilo Family Circus (2 books)
  • The Pilo Traveling Show
The Pilgrims (Pendulum, #1) Strange Places Nightfall Shadow World's End

Share This Book

“Life's a bitch and then you keep on fucking living.” 12 likes
“Remember back in forty-four when someone killed that pet parrot of yours? What was his name, Reynold? You know, the only friend you ever had? That was me, George. I fucked it to death then fed it to Goshy.” 2 likes
More quotes…