Erin Morgenstern has become quite the literary sensation therefore it is no surprise that readers are on the hunt for more books like The Night Circus, her stunning 2011 debut. Morgenstern’s haunting prose weaves what can only be described as a phantasmagorical fairy tale full of love, fate, honour, mystery and magic.
The wandering Les Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) is so much more than your average circus, there are acrobats without safety nets, cloud mazes, magical gardens made out of ice among many other extraordinary acts then defy reality, so much so that the circus has amassed a following of “dreamers.”
Aside from the amazing performances, there is a romance blossoming between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been pitted against one another since childhood in a deathly game that neither know how to end waging a war between both love and destiny.
The mystical books like The Night Circus listed below are the perfect escape novels, igniting the imaginations of readers across multiple age groups providing plenty of magic to brighten up even the dullest of days, enjoy.
9 Books like The Night Circus
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
Comparisons have been drawn between Erin Morgenstern and Neil Gaiman which is why his magical novella Stardust is a fitting start to this list of books like The Night Circus.
A contemporary take on a classic fairy tale, Gaiman transports us to the village of Wall, named after the wall that surrounds it. A wall used to keep the inhabitants of the neighbouring village Faerie out as well as keep the inhabitants of Wall in, the only time this wall is crossed is when a mysterious magical market comes to Faerie once a year.
The story mainly centres around young Tristran who scales the wall to capture a fallen star to impress his sweetheart Victoria Forrester, but Tristran is not the only person hoping to find the star. He will have to fend off the few remaining descendants of the Lord of Stormhold and three ancient witches known as the Lilim who all want the star for their own personal gain.
Full of twists, turns and surprises infused with Gaiman’s whimsical prose and unrivalled imagination Stardust is a wonderful read – I just wish it was longer!
Are you a Neil Gaiman fan? Check out our list of more books like American Gods!
Nights at the Circus, by Angela Carter
Angela Carter is famous for rewriting well-known fairy tales, adding alternative outcomes and injecting some strong female protagonists, she really plays around with the typical fairy tale narrative and her 1984 novel Nights at the Circus is no different.
Star of Colonel Kearney’s circus, Sophie Fevvers is a half-woman, half swan aerialist who catches the eye of a young journalist called Jack Walser, eager for a scoop. After an interview with Sophie, Jack decides to run away with the circus to try and determine whether her story, her appearance is real or fake and so he embarks on the circuses tour around Russia and across Siberia.
As with a lot of her work, Carter explores plenty of different themes in her tale including postfeminism, postmodernism, class versus wealth, individuality and time among others.
In Nights at the Circus, Carter has created her own curious world much like Morgenstern making it a great next read for fans of books similar to The Night Circus.
The Hourglass Factory, by Lucy Ribchester
Our next novel is also about a journalist investigating a trapeze artist but slightly more sinister than the aforementioned Nights at the Circus, however, the plotline includes the suffragette movement so I am sure Angela Carter would approve.
The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester is set in London during 1912, Ebony Diamond a famous, glamorous trapeze artist has mysteriously disappeared right in the middle of one of her acts and it is down to the journalist Frankie George to investigate and find out what happened to her. An investigation which leads her into a dark world full of corset fetishists, circus freaks, high society columnists and magic.
From a Fleet Street newspaper room, it becomes a race against the clock to save Ebony and stop a murderous villain from striking again.
Glamorous, gorgeous and loaded with notable historical events like the sinking of The Titanic and Jack the Ripper’s murderous spree, The Hourglass Factory is richly narrated, a beautiful read perfect for fans of books like The Night Circus.
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
We step away from the circus in our next book similar to The Night Circus with the late great Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s bewitching novel, The Shadow of the Wind.
Written as a story within a story, we cross to Barcelona in the wake of the Spanish Civil War to a country trying to heal like our protagonist Daniel Sempere as he mourns the death of his mother. Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer, slowly becomes obsessed with an author named Julian Carax whose novel ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ completely bewitches him.
As his obsession grows, Daniel realises that someone is destroying all of Carax’s work and sets to put an end to it to preserve the authors legacy, an adventure which leads him down a path of doom, murder and madness.
A haunting novel, The Shadow of the Wind brought Ruiz Zafón worldwide acclaim, selling 15 million books world-wide it is believed to be one of the best selling books ever written, a beautiful imprint left on this world after his untimely death this summer.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
If it is the element of magic that pulls you towards novels like The Night Circus than look no further than Susanna Clarke’s epic novel about two rather different magicians Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
Mr Norrell is a wealthy recluse obsessed with magic and the magicians, long forgotten by most, who used to wander the world with their fairy servants. Mr Norrell begins to learn magic from some ancient books and manages to raise someone from the dead which catches the eye of the Government who quickly utilise Mr Norrell’s magical capabilities in the war against France.
Amidst battlefields, Mr Norrell meets someone else practising magic who goes by the name of Jonathan Strange, and the pair quickly adopt the roles of master and tutor. But when Jonathan shows an interest in darker magic and the mysterious Raven King, their partnership is threatened along with anything else Jonathan holds dear.
Just short of 800 pages, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell certainly will fill any void left behind by The Night Circus.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V. E. Schwab
One of the reasons books like The Night Circus are so magical is because of the plot-driven narratives and the imagination which knows no bounds keeping us on the edge of our seats! V. E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a perfect example of this.
Beginning in France in 1714 and reminiscent of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, a young woman named Addie LaRue makes a similar bargain to live for eternity, however, she is also cursed to be forgotten by anyone she meets.
Her story plays out across centuries, across countries, through art and history as she battles to leave her mark on the world until one day, 300 years or so after her devilish deal, Addie meets a young man in a bookstore who recognises her and remembers her name.
A marvellous idea and a wonderful account of some significant events in history The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is easy to get swept away in.
The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
From living forever in our last book like The Night Circus to knowing the exact date you will die in the next with Chloe Benjamin’s novel The Immortalists.
It’s 1969 in New York and word is spreading of the arrival of a travelling psychic with the ability to reveal the date you will die.
Eager to hear their fortunes the four Gold children sneak out one night to visit the mystical psychic who informs them of their prophesies for the next 4 or 5 decades. Prophesies which include magic in Las Vegas, looking for love in San Francisco and researching the boundaries of science and immortality.
An ambitious novel which explores the question, if you knew precisely when you were going to die how would you live?
Touching on themes such as grief, morality, reality, destiny and choice The Immortalists is not just a moving exploration into all these areas, Benjamin has created some incredibly memorable characters who will stay with readers long after they finish the novel.
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller’s beautiful novel The Song of Achilles is as dazzling as it is devastating, a wonderful reimagining of a well known Greek myth. The novel focuses on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus ahead of the infamous Trojan War.
When the awkward prince Patroclus is exiled to the court of King Peleus, he meets Achilles, King Peleus’ godlike son. They quickly become unlikely friends skilled in the art of battle but just as fate brought the pair together it will also tear them apart.
When Helen of Sparta is kidnapped, Patrocles is torn between his love and fear for Achilles so joins him on his journey to Troy little knowing quite how much their relationship will be put to the test.
Breathtaking in its originality and awe-inspiring in its imagination with the war and doomed love just some of the reasons that readers of books like The Night Circus will fall in love with The Song of Achilles.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton
If you like The Night Circus for the game like aspect between Celia and Marco then you will particularly like this aspect of our next novel; Stuart Turton’s startlingly brilliant debut The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
Imagine a real life version of the board game Cluedo, a lavish mansion, the mysterious guests and a bloody murder, this is pretty much the essence of Turton’s novel.
Every day, Evelyn Hardcastle will die unless Aiden Bishop can solve her murder and identify her killer, except every day Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor making it very difficult to break the cycle of death and end the murderous game he has been playing on repeat for quite some time once and for all.
Another ambitious debut and one that will probably baffle you until the end yet, this body-swapping, time travelling, magical murder mystery is totally worth it. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is every bit the imaginative mystical narrative that fans of The Night Circus will enjoy.
Authors of books like The Night Circus draw their inspiration from all over the world, from history and art, from fairy tales and myths. These inspirational sparks fuel their fiery imaginations in completely unexpected ways which is why their books are such a joy to read.
Are you searching for more books like The Night Circus? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments.