Monday, February 23, 2015

Julie's Review: The Magician's Lie

Author: Greer Macallister
Series: None
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher via
Genre:  Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Simply Stunning
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician’s Lie, a debut novel in which the country’s most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder —and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence. The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear. But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless—and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors. ~sourcebooks  

Review: The Magician's Lie has elements of both those fantastic novels named above but it really is it's own book. It's been a while where I've been mesmerized by a lead character and Arden/Ada/Miss Bates entranced me. I can say that up until the end of the novel, I really wasn't sure if she was telling the truth. I wanted to believe her, just like Officer Holt but based on what she did for a living it made me think twice about taking her story at face value. Oh what a story! As Office Holt "arrests" Arden for the murder of her husband, she implores to him that she's innocent. He wants her to tell her the story of what happened that night but of course the history leading up to that point in time must be told. This is where Arden hooks you. Her story of loss, abuse, gaining power, gaining control and finding love are beguiling.

It is not only in Arden's story that Ms. Macallister sets the tone but also in the history of illusions and illusionists. It is in the way she describes Adelaide's show and how Arden feverishly watches them to learn their secrets. As I read the novel, I could hear the roar of the audiences as Arden would describe them. I could feel her pain as she described the abuse/torture she lived through. I could feel the power of her illusions and the control she had over them. Arden's home was with the family she created with her crew and performers.

In Arden, we have a strong, independent woman who fights for what she believes is right and also for her own future. She is smart and beautiful. I never found her to be cunning. Instead I found her to be brutally honest and sincere in the end. 

There isn't much I can tell you about the plot frankly without giving the good bits away, so I won't. I will say the plot is well-written and even with some plot twists along the way, they never felt contrived. As a reader you are pulled into a time when entertainment traveled by rail and everything you saw on a stage was new and exciting. You were simply dazzled by the performances.

That's how I feel about this novel, I was dazzled. I wanted to race to the end to find out what happened and I also didn't want it to be over. I wanted Arden to be happy but not at an awful price.

If you love books about the late 1800s and early 1900s then The Magician's Lie will transport you to that time. As I read the book I was recalling a few movies from 2006 featuring illusionist as main characters: "The Illusionist" (Ed Norton & Jessica Biel) and "The Prestige" (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale). Also, if I were to cast Arden it would be Emma Stone.

For me this book was magic in the best way and the way Arden would want it to be.



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