The party’s over now
So draw the curtains down
Your secret’s safe to keep
Unzip your velvet gown
And let your hair hang loose
Kick off your satin shoes
Throw back the ida down
Farewell to Friday’s clown
The circus is leaving town
Oh Ruby, roll your stockins down
Circus is leaving town
Oh Ruby, dry your eyes
-“The Circus is Leaving Town,” by Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbel
This weekend marks the end of an era. On May 21st, the final performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus will take place and the traveling circus, as we’ve known it for 146 years, will come to an end. To keep the circus in our hearts and minds for years to come, we decided to prepare a list of book recs for you.
CIRQUE AMERICAN SERIES BY GWENDA BOND
The Cirque Americain series is a series of standalone novels set in modern circuses, each centered on difference characters. There are two books so far in the series: Girl on a Wire features Jules Maroni, a high wire performer. Girl in Shadows features Moira Mitchell, magician.
Then there are also four graphic novels in this series!
CARAVAL BY STEPHANIE GARBER
Featured in our First Reads Friday preview in December, Caraval was one of our most anticipated reads of 2017. Caraval itself is exclusive–you can not attend without an invitation that mysteriously arrives to those selected to attend. While the circus is not traditional in the sense of tightrope walkers and lions, the atmosphere is like that of a mysterious carnival wrapped in mystery.
THE NIGHT CIRCUS BY ERIN MORGENSTERN
Like Caraval, the location of The Night Circus is a mystery, but it is open to all once it appears. While the observers are enveloped in the wonderment of all the black and white striped tents, what lies underneath is a battle between two illusionists trained from childhood to compete, Celia and Marco. Part love story, part magical wonderment, you will be left under Le Cirque des Rêves‘s spell long after you’ve finished this novel.
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS BY ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE
Traveling mermaids and tightrope walkers with two very different stories about one night, long ago. With an nod to West Side Story, the story of two competing traveling performers will fill you with magical dreams of the traveling circus.
WONDER SHOW BY HANNAH BARNABY
We live just north of Gibsonton, Florida, where the International Showmen’s Association and Museum is located and a lifetime obsession with carnivals and carnival freaks was born. This book about a runaway joining a traveling show of human oddities while hiding from Mister seems like the perfect homage to the freak show culture.
CIRCUS MIRANDUS BY CASSIE BEASLEY
A middle grade book about finding magic in the world around you. Recalling the movie Big Fish, Micah sets out to discover the magical circus his grandfather told him stories about as he grew up in order to try to find a miracle that may save his grandfather’s life.
A few upcoming carnival-themed releases on our radar:
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
A dark fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.
Show Stopper by Hayley Barker
A dystopian world where the poor must sell their children to perform in the traveling circus that performs for the wealthy.
PS–I found these wonderful wine labels courtesy of my amazing local wine store! Our pals at YA and Wine may be interested!
Finally, I’ll leave you with the song that started off this post.
What are some of your favorite carnival-themed books that we should add to this list?