For fans of magic or magicians, in the setting of the carnival or a circus, here are some realist and magic-realist novels you might like to try:
The night circus : a novel / Erin Morgenstern.
“Debut author Morgenstern doesn’t miss a beat in this smashing tale of greed, fate, and love set in a turn of the 20th-century circus. Celia is a five-year-old with untrained psychokinetic powers when she is unceremoniously dumped on her unsuspecting father, Hector Bowen, better known as Le Cirque des Reves’ Prospero the Entertainer. Hector immediately hatches a sinister scheme for Celia: pit her against a rival’s young magician in an epic battle of magic that will, by design, result in the death of one of the players, though neither Celia nor her adversary, Marco, is informed of the inevitable outcome. What neither Hector nor his rival count on is that Celia and Marco will eventually fall in love. Their mentors-Marco’s mentor, Alexander, plucked him from the London streets due to his psychic abilities-attempt to intervene with little success as Celia and Marco barrel toward an unexpected and oddly fitting conclusion. Supporting characters-such as Bailey, a farm boy who befriends a set of twins born into the circus who will drastically influence his future; Isobel, a circus employee and onetime girlfriend of Marco’s; and theatrical producer Chandresh Christophe Lefevre-are perfectly realized and live easily in a giant, magical story destined for bestsellerdom. This is an electric debut on par with Special Topics in Calamity Physics. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)
Water for elephants / Sara Gruen.Water for Elephants
“An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of “Riding Lessons.” “Gritty, sensual and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant).”Q”Parade.”” (Syndetics summary)
Mechanique : a tale of the Circus Tresaulti / Genevieve Valentine.
“Come inside and take a seat; the show is about to begin… Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic. That magic is no accident: Boss builds her circus from the bones out, molding a mechanical company that will survive the unforgiving landscape. But even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes. Two of Tresaulti’s performers are entangled in a secret standoff that threatens to tear the circus apart just as the war lands on their doorstep. Now the Circus must fight a war on two fronts: one from the outside, and a more dangerous one from within.” (Syndetics summary)
The princess bride : S. Morgenstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure / the “good parts” version, abridged by William Goldman.The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
“In this 30th anniversary edition, Goldman frames the famous fairy tale with an “autobiographical” story; his father had abridged the book as he read it to his son. Now, Goldman is publishing an abridged version, interspersed with comments on the parts that had been cut out.” (Syndetics summary)
The prestige / Christopher Priest.The Prestige
“Two 19th century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angier and the working-class Alfred Borden, engage in a bitter and deadly feud; the effects are still being felt by their respective families a hundred years later. Working in the gaslight-and-velvet world of Victorian music halls, they prowl edgily in the background of each other’s shadowy life, driven to the extremes by a deadly combination of obsessive secrecy and insatiable curiosity. At the heart of the row is an amazing illusion they both perform during their stage acts. The secret of the magic is simple, and the reader is in on it almost from the start, but to the antagonists the real mystery lies deeper. Both have something more to hide than the mere workings of a trick.” (Amazon.co.uk)
Nights at the circus / Angela Carter ; with an introduction by Sarah Waters.
“Angela Carter has influenced a whole generation of fellow writers towards dream worlds of baroque splendour, fairy tale horror, and visions of the alienated wreckage of a future world. In Nights at the Circus she has invented a new, raunchy, raucous, Cockney voice for her heroine Fevvers, taking us back into a rich, turn of the 19th century world, which reeks of human and animal variety.” (Amazon.co.uk)