Top 5 circus books, inspired by Rosie Garland's The Palace of Curiosities

Top 5 circus books, inspired by Rosie Garland's The Palace of Curiosities

Geek Love, Death-Defying Acts and Something Wicked This Way Comes among our favourite big top tales

Rosie Garland’s debut The Palace of Curiosities is a luminous, gritty novel set in a Victorian circus. Try our favourite circus books to bring some glitter and greasepaint into your life.

Geek Love – Katherine Dunn

Art and Lily Binewski create their own freak show with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes. Their daughter, albino hunchback Olympia, chronicles the family’s growth, fractures, and final disintegration.

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

Just after midnight in a misty October, the circus rolls into a small Midwestern town. At first the townsfolk are thrilled, but soon the circus destroys every life caught up in its smoke and mirrors. Bradbury never gets it wrong, and this is a masterpiece of the dark fantastic.

Death-Defying Acts – Erin Keane

What does the Tattooed Lady fear? What does the Aerialist see from her trapeze? Who really holds the power: the lion-tamer, or the lion? This beautiful, brutal poetry collection has the answers.

The Circus – Dominique Jando

For the serious circus enthusiast, this 670-page photography book is a treat. It’s full of surreally bright photos of vintage circuses, and includes all the black-and-white photos of glammed-up elephants you could ever want. Make sure you read it at a table, as it’s huge enough to cut off the blood supply to your legs.

Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter

Fevvers the aerialist is the star of the show – but is she really part-swan, or are the exaggerations just part of her mystique? As the circus travels from London to St Petersburg to Siberia, American journalist Jack is determined to discover the truth, despite the complication of his love for Fevvers. By the end of this glorious novel, you’ll be in love with her too.

The Palace of Curiosities is published by HarperCollins on Thu 28 Mar.

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