Trapped in the Circus of Fear is the third special edition book of the Give Yourself Goosebumps gamebook series. It was published in 1998.

The cover art shows an evil clown grinning while juggling skulls. A large top circus tent is behind him.


It's the Scariest Show on Earth!

You did so well at Circus Camp, you're allowed to join a real circus for a week. But it turns out to be a Circus of Fear!

Meet the Girl with Five Tongues and the Kid with Rotten Flesh. These sideshow freaks used to be normal kids—until the evil ringmistress got hold of them. And now she’s after you. You'd better destroy her evil powers—before she turns you into the Kid Who Lives in a Jar!

The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that's packed with over 20 super-spooky endings!


You and your friend, Richie, do a great performance during your time at a circus camp. As a reward, both of you are invited to participate in a real local circus. However, once you both arrive you find yourselves at the mercy of the sinister Mistress Barbarous and her circus crew who either want you dead or as permanent sideshow attractions. It's up to you to save Richie and the sideshow freaks, defeat Mistress Barbarous, and escape the circus.  

Being a special edition "Power Play" story, at the beginning of the book, you must choose only three out of eleven items take to the circus that'll determine your survival. 

Item list

The following list contains the eleven items that can be taken for the adventure:

  • Camera
  • Dictionary of circus terms
  • Mirror
  • Peppy, your pet snake
  • Chocolate bars
  • Talcum powder
  • Bag of peanuts
  • Bunch of bananas
  • Your lucky baseball cap
  • Ball of twine
  • Bullwhip

List of endings

There are twenty-one bad endings, two ambiguous endings, and two good endings.

Bad endings

  • You heed Morton's demands of staying still during the horseback knife throwing act, but his horrible aim ends up with you being pinned to the board with a knife.
  • Feeding Mr. Peepers a banana, he uses the peels to slip on them to make Geyorg laugh and release you. Geyorg then slips over the peel next for fun and squashes you flat when you leap the wrong way.
  • Geyorg successfully strangles you to death when Mr. Peepers refuses your bag of peanuts and asks if you have chocolate instead. This is a hint to bring a different food item for your next attempt.
  • Mistress Barbarous finds you in the food tent and turns your fingers into tufts of cotton candy that can magically grow back. Richie comes in and his fingers are sticks of butter from the popcorn machine. Mistress Barbarous then assigns you both to work at the food tent for the rest of your life.
  • You escaped the circus but accidentally left Richie and the freaks behind. You survive, but the book clearly tells you this is a bad ending because you were supposed to save them.
  • Bostini horribly devours you when you don't have the right items to defend yourself with.
  • Bostini sneezes violently after you throw talcum powder in his face and his teeth slam shut around your neck, decapitating you. Bostini hates the taste of your ears and spits them out, this gives Mistress Barbarous an idea for a new sideshow attraction and attaches your ears on the sides of your neck. You're now known as "The Eerie Ear-ie Kid".
  • You and Richie are caught by Mistress Barbarous, she then pulls out her pendant and casts a spell that makes you both Siamese twins joined at the stomach.
  • You attempt to make a deal with Mistress Barbarous to let you go by trading her an item of yours. You give her your camera but the battery dies. Desperately, you plead not to be sealed in the jar of goop and Barbarous transform you into a literal human cannonball instead.
  • Alternatively, you offer your lucky baseball cap. She wears it and mocks you about feeling lucky already and throwing you in the air and landing into a jar of goop.
  • Mistress Barbarous is retreating and you crack the bullwhip to command the lions to attack her. You point at her direction, but because the lions don't understand pointing they attack you instead.
  • You decide that a lion is more dangerous than Mistress Barbarous. The book scolds you for not paying attention, and it's implied that Barbarous eats you.
  • You're squashed inside a clown car with Richie as clowns pile in on top of you.
  • You permanently become a clown.
  • You dismiss the idea of getting the jar goo hosed off first and escape the circus but forever smell awful. The scent is so horrible that one year later you return to the circus and place yourself in the jar.
  • You happen to have your lucky baseball cap and the lion you assumed to have want to attack you just ran over you by accident and walks away without incident. With the luck going to your head, you decide to entertain the audience by walking the tightrope despite not having any training or safety net. The book interrupts to say you're on an unlucky page number any you consequently lose your balance and fall off.
  • Given the chance to save yourself with a ball of twine, you think of all the ways you could use it. However, you take too long to decide what to do with the twine and the now giant Geyorg snatches it away before you fall to your death.
  • The knife thrower throws his knife at a rope holding the trapeze, and you fall to your death.
  • Fall flat on your face for missing the trapeze.
  • Dancing forever.
  • As you're under the dancing spell, you retaliate by using your bullwhip to destroy the magic violin. However, it completely misses and recoils back at your direction, wrapping itself around you. You realize you used up all of your items and the book addresses the items you chose that lead you to this ending were incorrect.

Ambiguous endings

  • You take pictures of Bostini and show them to him. Seeing his own face causes Bostini to cry. You get away from him and take photos of the freaks in the side show. You sell your photos of the freaks to a tabloid, and everyone simply laughs at the pictures. While you escaped unharmed, Richie remains trapped.
  • Non-ending: By doing the word search, you were able to survive getting attacked by the lions and provided with helpful tips. However, you get sent back to the beginning of the story.

Good endings

  • The entire story was all a dream and you decide not to go to the circus.
  • You destroy Mistress Barbarous' powers by snatching her pendant. With it, you transform the rest of her crew into animals while changing the freaks back to normal. You all now run the circus and have an elephant step on the pendant for good measure. 

International releases

No. Book Country/Language Translated title Release date Publisher


Trapped in the Circus of Fear - Russian Cover - Цирк-западня


Circus Trap 2006 РОСМЭН-ПРЕСС



  • Currently, this is the only book Give Yourself Goosebumps: Special Edition book to officially be released in eBook format.
  • Despite having some hints that tell you there are items you should not bring in order to survive, it is possible to reach the good endings in this book with only two items.
  • The ending in which Bostini bites the Reader's head off is noticeably one of the most gruesome endings in the series, as it's not implied what happens to the reader, nor does the ending uses jokes to cover up the gore, as a lot of the bad endings do.
  • On page 99, the choice the Reader has to make is decided by whenever he has been to the sideshow or not. However, it isn't actually possible to visit the sideshow before reaching that page (Unless the Reader had to return to the beginning of the story, which is the only "non-ending" way to reach that page after visiting the sideshow).