Carnival Row Readalikes: Neo-Noir Victorian Fantasy

I'm very intrigued by the neo-noir Victorian fantasy show Carnival Row starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne coming to Amazon Prime later this month. Three things are clear as crystal: mythological creatures, England and a touch of steampunk. Here are a few books to read in anticipation and to keep in mind in case the show flops. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

The Drowned World: This time, J.G. Ballard's futuristic dreamscape narrates a tropical, lush and apocalyptic London under the weight of climate change: It's a barbaric jungle grasping hold of the scientists examining it. And aren't you just a little curious to find out what accelerated evolution brings along?

Gilded Cage: Magic-wielding aristocrats rule the commoners in this tale, but a fine line blurs the divide as Abi, his brother Luke and a unique aristocrat take the scene. 

Neverwhere (our spring 2011 One Book, One Chicago selection): Richard is down on his luck many times over, but once he meets a elvish-looking girl named Door on London's streets, his life literally turns upside-down as he discovers another world—underground, sinister and enchanted—within the city he thought he knew. (Want more? Read more by Neil Gaiman or watch the BBC adaptation by the same name, Neverwhere.)

Perdido Street Station: Isaac, a brilliant and quirky scientist, lives in a place that's anything but black and white. His girlfriend, the beautiful bug Lin, is complete with wings, mandibles and a human body. Their relationship is far from acceptable to many, although Lin's art-scene friends are more understanding. Other chimeras, far from human, emerge in this urban landscape of rot and crime. What happens when Isaac meets a Garuda, a creature as big as him with the head of an owl, asking him to fix his wings in order to fly once again?

The Time Machine: This classic science fiction novella begins in Victorian England… and ends up in another time entirely. When the Time Traveller's invention is stolen, many culprits of various articulations aside from homo sapien arise.

Do you have any suggestions to add? Let me know in the comments! 

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library