The Enid Blyton Society
The Circus of Adventure
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Book Details...

First edition: 1952
Publisher: Macmillan
Illustrator: Stuart Tresilian
Category: Adventure Series
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Review by Anita Bensoussane
Further Illustrations


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Stuart Tresilian

1st American edition published by St. Martin's Press in 1953,
illustrated by Stuart Tresilian

1st German edition published by Erika Klopp Verlag in 1954,
illustrated by Walter Born
Foreign Titles
German: Der Zirkus der Abenteuer
French: Le mystère du mondial circus (Arthur & Cie au Mondial Circus)
Dutch: Het circus van avontuur
Spanish: Aventura en el Circo
Portuguese: A Aventura no Circo
Swedish: Aventyrens Cirkus
Danish: Det Mystiske Cirkus
Finnish: Seikkailujen Sirkus
Turkish: Seruven Sirki
Malaysian: Pengembaraan Di Sarkas

Brief Summary by Courtenay Rule: For Philip, Dinah, Jack and Lucy-Ann, it seems a real bore to have the strangely conceited young foreign boy, Gussy, staying with them for the Easter holidays. But Gussy, it turns out, is more than he seems — and he and the other children are soon in grave danger. Caught up in a sinister political plot in the kingdom of Tauri-Hessia, they must find a way to outwit the villains and restore justice to the country — with the help of their new friends, the folk of a travelling circus!

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Anita Bensoussane's Review
By the beginning of this book, Bill and Allie are married and the latter has changed her name from Mannering to Cunningham. They have arranged to take Philip, Jack, Dinah and Lucy-Ann to the countryside for the Easter Holidays, to a place called Little Brockleton, where Philip and Jack plan to watch badgers and owls. At the last minute, Bill asks if he can bring another boy too — the foreign nephew of a friend of his, so he says. The boy, Gustavus (Gussy for short), is eleven with long, curly, blue-black hair, and proves unpopular with the other children as he makes a fuss about things and is rather a cry-baby. We have what is perhaps the most cringe-making sentence of the series when Philip, exasperated with Gussy, remarks: "Why don't foreigners bring up their kids properly?" (!)

The children soon begin to realise that there is some mystery about Gustavus. When Jack enquires about his nationality, Bill replies vaguely: "Oh, he's a bit of a mixture, I think," and Gussy gives orders as if he is a great figure of authority rather than an eleven-year-old boy. It is not long before his true identity is revealed. He is Prince Aloysius of Tauri-Hessia and, because his uncle is King of Tauri-Hessia, Gussy is next in line to the throne. His uncle is a good ruler but a man named Count Paritolen wants to remove him and put the young Aloysius in his place. Then Count Paritolen will really have control. The British Government is keen to prevent this happening, which is why Gussy has been brought to Britain and put in the care of Bill.

Count Paritolen and Madame Tatiosa (the wife of the Prime Minister of Tauri-Hessia) track Gussy down to Little Brockleton and capture him. They also kidnap Philip, Dinah and Lucy-Ann, whom they plan to hold as hostages if the British Government tries to intervene. Jack, who was not captured as he was out watching owls, manages to hide unobserved in the back of the aeroplane which takes the children to Tauri-Hessia.

Once there, Kiki's clever tricks enable Jack to join a circus which is travelling to Borken, where Gussy and the others are being held in Count Paritolen's castle. Jack explores the castle, discovering secret ways and passages, and finds out where the children are imprisoned. The descriptions of Tauri-Hessia and its people make it sound like a small central-European country — the outsides of the houses are adorned with patterns and window-boxes, and the people wear gaily-embroidered peasant clothes.

A circus-boy named Pedro, half English and half Spanish, agrees to help Jack rescue Gussy and the others from the castle. Pedro enlists the help of his acrobat friends, Toni and Bingo, and the rescue involves the children sitting on trapeze swings and being guided along a tightrope by Toni, from a window of the castle to the window of a bell-tower opposite.

As the children make their way to the circus after their escape, they hear bells ringing out to tell of the disappearance of Gussy's uncle, the King. Gussy is disguised as a girl by Pedro's mother, Ma, who passes him off as her little grand-daughter. The other children are welcomed by the circus-folk after Philip calms down two angry bears which have escaped from their cage while their trainer, Fank, is ill and unable to deal with them.

As always, Bill arrives to put things right, disguised as a travelling pedlar. He has a friend, Ronald, with him, who speaks Tauri-Hessian. Jack believes that the King is hidden in Borken Castle so he leads Bill and Ronald to the castle down a passage leading from the bell-tower. The rescue of the King, and the capture of the Count, are full of danger and drama.

The book ends with the King holding a grand feast for which Mrs Cunningham flies to Tauri-Hessia. She, Bill and the children are to stay with Gussy as his guests for a few weeks. In a final comic moment, Gussy, who hated being dressed as a girl, persuades his father to let him have his long hair cut! These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.