Book Review: The Last Circus on Earth by B.P. Marshall

The Last Circus on Earth…

About the Book:

It’s 2070, and the post-Collapse world is staggering toward another, perhaps final, destruction. Blanco, is a reluctant member of Mister Splinter’s Magnifico Cirque de Curiosities. Travelling through dangerous lands, this heavily-armed band of freaks and circus performers survive by conning and killing, robbing and running – and putting on a show.

But simple survival is not their real purpose. Their leader, seen only by his ‘doctors’, enforces brutal rule, and none are more harshly treated than Blanco, who becomes aware the circus is much more than it seems.

Worse, something is growing inside him, something that is changing and killing him. From the ruins of London, across Europe and Asia Minor to the remote Tien Shan mountains, Blanco and the circus fight toward a final showdown, for Blanco’s last chance of survival – and perhaps even for the entire human species.

My Thoughts:

The Last Circus on Earth is at once gripping, more apocalyptic than dystopian, and by far the most science-y of science fiction books I’ve ever read. Mister Splinter’s Magnifico Cirque de Curiosities is not your average circus, more a circus of suffering, a criminal organisation that is also a front for an agenda that takes its time in surfacing within the plot. I have truly never read anything like this before, it’s an absolute mash up of so many things: Mad Max takes on The Hunger Games with an injection of Gattaca while passing through The Island of Dr. Moreau. An absolutely wild and action-packed ride from start to finish.

Marshall is a visual storyteller, from the setting through to his character’s dialect and accents; his writing is imbued with atmosphere. Perhaps this is a by-product of being a scriptwriter, that ability to write with all four senses ignited. While there was a lot more action and brutality within this novel than is to my usual taste, the sophisticated plot and visionary world building more than balanced the scales in favour for my enjoyment. I’m not a huge reader of spec-fiction, but for some reason I’ve been drawn to it of late and my last four reads (including this one) have been from this genre. One thing I look for in a futuristic/dystopian tale is those cautionary messages, particularly around climate change, but this one also dipped into terrain such as unchecked capitalism, political megalomania, religious corruption, genetic manipulation, human robotics, and biological warfare. It sounds like many issues to tackle all at once, but Marshall has strung them all together with such cohesion that he is able to effectively demonstrate through his narrative the ways in which these are all interlinked.

Was this story grim? Absolutely. But sprinkled throughout are moments of human connection that serve as anchors for the characters, and for the readers, encouraging them to stay the course, and the novel does end on a hopeful note. If you’re looking for something truly different to sink into, you might like to give The Last Circus on Earth a try. And what about that cover! It’s sensational, isn’t it? The author has an interview with the cover artist over on his blog and I encourage you to check it out here.


Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy of The Last Circus on Earth for review.

About the Author:

B.P. Marshall is a former Critical Care and Remote Area Nurse who took a break from delivering babies and sewing up machete wounds to consult for a television medical drama. He ended up writing storylines, doing some science journalism and becoming a full-time scriptwriter. A short film, (True Love, Ignition Films), won awards in Australia and the United States. Turning to novels, he won writing mentorships, and was shortlisted (for The Fox) as Emerging Writer in the 2017 Queensland Literary Awards. In 2019 he won the Fantastica Prize for The Last Circus on Earth. He’s currently writing television scripts, and novels across multiple genres.

Find B.P. Marshall online here.

I have had the pleasure of featuring Ben on my blog on two previous occasions. You can read these articles here:

Origin of the Writer: Ben Marshall
Guest Post: Writing War – Truth to Power by Ben Marshall

The Last Circus on Earth
Published by Brio Books – Fantastica
Released July 2020

16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Last Circus on Earth by B.P. Marshall

      • It’s certainly fits that. I still enjoyed it though, it was so different to what I usually read and I didn’t at all feel depressed or overwhelmed by the subject matter.
        I understand why you’d hesitate though, timing wise. I feel for spec fiction writers releasing books this year. It’s tough enough, competing in a market flooded with releases, much less trying to do so when the world is in its current state.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. At the risk of getting boring, there are copies in Brisbane City Council libraries and I nabbed the last one on the shelf. In the past, I have successfully recommended books on OverDrive so I have also done this. You can tell I am not a fan of Amazon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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