I really can’t remember the last time I went to an amusement park. When I was younger, I regularly took school trips to AstroWorld or Fiesta, Texas. To be honest, I always had more fun with the latter, though. When it comes to amusement park rides, I’m a big wimp. If you put me on a roller coaster, you’re going to be at the end of a swear-laden rant when we hit the ground. Besides, you owe me about five adult drinks for tricking me into getting into it. Fair warning.
But I still liked going there. There’s something fun about walking around and seeing these kinds of rides. We all know that food is actually terrible for you, but everyone still wants to eat it. And people watching! These types of parks have been part of our society for a long time. And, honestly, I don’t see it ending anytime soon.
I know most of us are still recovering from last year and the vacation we weren’t able to take. I was happy to see the attendance boom that amusement parks of all kinds are currently experiencing. It’s not just because workers can have an income that is rightfully theirs or that families really need to spend time away from home. Let’s be honest: abandoned amusement parks are scary because they all come out. You can’t change my mind.
Below are some of the most interesting books set in an amusement park or carnival. They vary in genre, but you can expect to hear about rides and cotton candy while reading each one. Another side note is that this list isn’t as diverse as I normally prefer mine. There is a noticeable lack of color writing authors on places like this. But it’s still a good list, so I’m sure you’ll find one that will be enjoyable and entertaining for you.
An Unforgettable Ride by Sharon Langley, Amy Nathan and Floyd Cooper
I start with this sweet non-fiction picture book about Langley herself. In 1963, she became the first African-American child to ride the carousel at the desegregated Gwynn Oak amusement park. On the same day, Dr. King made his freedom march on Washington. It’s a good book to read for both enjoyment and a history lesson in what the whole civil rights movement entailed, a lesson our country still needs today.
Erin Morgenstern’s Nocturnal Circus
Genre: Romance/Magical Realism
I’m sure this presence here won’t surprise anyone, but just in case you haven’t read it yet, here we go. The circus always arrives without warning and is only available at night. While there is the glitz and glamor one would normally associate with a circus, there is also a rivalry behind the curtain between two older magicians and their proteges, whom they have pitted against each other. other. Despite this set up, the two fall in love and try to find a way to end this years-long cycle between the two older magicians.
Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn
Age: Children/Middle Grade
Arthur and Logan, two 13-year-old boys, have taken it upon themselves to solve the murder that took place in Logan’s house years before his family lived there. This self-imposed task eventually leads them to an abandoned amusement park that’s supposed to be closed for the season, but doesn’t seem to have received that rating.
Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Mary Alice is going through a bit of a crazy time in life. This list includes, but is not limited to, restoring an amusement park that may or may not be home to the most powerful demons in world history, a crooked politician, and dealing with a super-secret government agency. When you add possible romantic entanglement to this mix, it’s a recipe for a wild ride indeed… I’m sorry for that. Please continue reading.
Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
Lou Parker is determined to have the best summer of her life. Who cares that she’s the giant dancing hot dog at the Magic Castle Playground? Or that his crush, Nick, already has a girlfriend who absolutely doesn’t deserve him. Or that her best friend Seely is abnormally irritated by her plans to get closer to Nick. Or that it will be last summer for Magic Castle Playground… maybe it will be harder than she initially thought. I have heard about this book for years on the Hi you podcast, and when I picked it up I was mad at myself that it took so long. Such a delightful read.
Something Wicked Is Coming by Ray Bradbury
Genre: Classic Horror
Genre: YA and more
Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to Green Town, Illinois a week before Halloween, bringing with it all kinds of spooky vibes. It promises eternal life, but brings death, and two boys on the brink of adulthood are about to find out what happens when you make wishes without thinking what it might cost. There’s a reason this book is still touted as a classic in the horror genre, even nearly 60 years later.
Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier
On paper, Wonderland seems like the perfect family trip for a fun summer day. That is, until a rotting body is left halfway for all the workers to see. Vanessa Castro’s first day as police chief at Seaside tackles this murder as well as the disappearance of a teenage boy. As she follows the clues, she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding Wonderland and discovers that it may not be such a magical place after all.
Lethal Velocity by Lincoln Child (previously published as Utopia)
Ripe with holographic designs and state-of-the-art technology as part of the rides, Utopia seems to be the new yardstick against which all amusement parks are set. This also makes it a prime target for cyber criminals who infiltrate the park and manage to overtake the system. As long as their demands are met, park guests will be fine. Otherwise, it will be another newspaper article. This one’s an edge to your siege thriller, so be sure to set yourself aside a few hours.
Zatanna: Gravesend’s Gem by Alys Arden and Jacquelin De Leon (April 5, 2022)
Genre: Graphic novel
Come on, look at the cover: cotton candy and a Ferris wheel? Add a girl who gives off witchy vibes, has a giant rabbit she walks on a leash, and a house known as a golden elephant? You know you’re in for a mad rush, and that’s before she sets out on a quest for mystical jewelry that reveals the truth about her family’s heritage and charts a course for their possible future.
Circus Berserk by Jessica Guess
Best friends Sam and Rochelle, along with a few of their friends, decide to break away from their “boring” senior trip and visit the abandoned Cirque Berserk where, 30 years before, a massacre took place. Legend has it that the fairgrounds are still haunted, so of course they decide to go see the ghosts and, to their surprise, end up having a night of terror. What did I say about abandoned amusement parks? As scary as hell.
I hope some of these books have piqued your interest and inspired you to pick them up. Let us know on social media what some of your favorite amusement park books and rides are!