So one very specific thing I like in books are Carnivals/circuses! I don’t know why, but I always enjoy books with that aspect! There aren’t many Carnival books out there, so I’m constantly on the lookout for more of them! If you know of any more, please leave them in the comments because I would love to check it out.
1.Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.
This book is very atmospheric and very mysterious, so if you’re looking for something like that, check it out! The love interest is also demisexual, which I have never read in another book!
2. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.
After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.
I always resonate with Akemi Dawn Bowman’s books, as she always writes mix-raced main characters (specifically Asian and European like me!) The journey of self discovery Harley goes on really touched me, and I also loved the romance! This is the only circus/carnival book I’ve read that isn’t fantasy, so if you’re looking for a contemporary, check this one out!
3. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.
Like Daughter of the Burning City, Caraval is very atmospheric. It reminds me a bit of Alice in Wonderland because everything is nonsensical, and you never know what is real and what isn’t. I also really love Julian! His banter with Scarlett was so much fun to read!