Over my many, many years of reading, I have noticed that there are certain themes in books that I'm instantly attracted to. For better or for worst, if the book descriptions highlight a dog being a main part of the story, main characters with magical capabilities, strong female characters, I'm all in. That the books have these themes doesn't guarantee I'll enjoy them, but it is a good way of getting me to read them.
One of these said themes that I recently discovered was attractive to me was circus/carnival themed books. I hadn't noticed I had an attraction for this theme until I recently read a book (which I didn't enjoy), and when I asked myself what had made me pick this book, I discovered it was the fact that the title had the word magician on it and the cover had a circus tarp. I had to admit to myself, I love that traveling, weird combination of characters, the potential for exotic animals life. Accepting this about myself, I decided I would like to share some of those books set in a circus/carnival that I have enjoyed.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Caraval is this magical carnival game that travels from island to island, only happens once a year, the audience participates in the show and its by invitation only. Scarlett and Tella are sisters that have always wanted to attend Caraval. This year they are finally invited, but when they reach the location of Caraval Tella is kidnapped and Scarlett is force to take part in a game where things are not always what they seem.
Caraval came out in the beginning of the year and was described as ideal for fans of The Night Circus, which is another circus book, and one I loved. So, I had to read Caraval, because any body that has read The Night Circus knows it's an amazing book and you are constantly searching for that Night Circus high. I don't think Caraval is like Night Circus, but I liked it. It is I would say a young adult night circus-ish book, it's not as dark as the Night Circus. I thought Caraval was magical and Stephanie Garber created a place that you wish was real and you could visit. I enjoyed it and want to read the next installment.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgestern
The Night Circus is a circus that shows up without warning and is only open from sunset to sunrise. This circus is full of magical tents and performers that are more than they seem. The circus itself is a cover for a magicians duel. The magicians Prospero the Enchanter and the enigmatic Mr. A.H— groom their proteges, Celia Bowen (Prospero's daughter) and Marco Alisdair (adopted orphan of Mr. A.H), to proxy their rivalry with the circus exhibits as a stage. Celia and Marco fall in love, complicating things, and putting the circus and the lives of the other performers in danger.
The Night Circus is one of my all time favorite books. It is so magical and intricate that you are left wanting more. It is a book that has magic, wonder, but also romance, darkness, and leaves you feeling empty in a good way, cause you have lived so many emotions through it. Out of all the circus books I have read, this is by far my favorite.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
In Water for Elephants Jacob Jankowski's is a 99 year old man who remembers when he ran away and joined the circus. Jacob was studying to be a vet, but after he loses his parents he walks out of vet school and joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he takes care of the animals, in particular Rosie the elephant. A bond forms between him, Rosie, and Marlena (the star of the equestrian show, who is also married to the circus boss).
Water for elephants is an engaging story, with touches on hard topics of domestic abuse, animal abuse, and the lose of loved ones. This story has a good combination of villains and good doers, but most importantly this story is more of a behind the scenes of a circus than the glitz and glamour of the shows. This is a book where a lot of bad things happen, but that only helps strengthen the main characters, This is a story that captures you, and makes you root for these characters.
Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace
Henry Walker a once world class magician, now performs in Musgrove's Chinese Circus as a Negro Magician who is awful at magic. Henry's life is forever linked to Mr. Sebastian, the person who taught him to do magic. However, Mr. Sebastian is the same person who also ruined Henry's life by dissapearing and taking his sister Hannah. In Henry's eyes, Mr. Sebastian will always be the devil.
Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician is not a book I necessarily enjoyed, proving that just because you like a theme, it doesn't mean it's going to be good. This was a confusing story, with many, many twist. Without giving anything away, even Henry is not what he seems. I enjoyed the magical realism aspects of this story, but overall felt it did ramble at points and didn't address certain issues.
I like to read about circus/carnivals, because you get transported into this world of magic or the possibility of magic. You are also reminded of when you were a child and wanted to go to the circus or imagined what it would be like to join it. I will continue reading circus/carnival books, because for the most part with a few exceptions, most are enjoyable reads.
Have any circus/carnival books you recommend?
Let me know.