In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose each other. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magician's craft can command. Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the end, their legacy will be passed on for generations to descendants who must, for their sanity's sake, untangle the puzzle left to them.More
Winner of the World Fantasy Award
"Extraordinary, like a dazzling magic act!" (Entertainment Weekly)
"A brilliant conjuring act by one of the master illusionists of our time." (Wired)
"A taut, twisting, prize-winning story of two magicians and their fierce fin-de-siècle rivalry that taints successive generations of their respective families....An unexpectedly compelling fusion of weird science and legerdemain." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Enthralling and very clever
If 'prestidigitation' (a new word I learnt from this book!) is about the art of deceit and sleight of hand, then so is this story. An untrustworthy/mysterious narrator is used from the start, which sets the tone for a gripping story of rivalry, ambition and desperation. You're never quite sure what exactly is 'true' or not, which makes it a very engaging read.
Having loved the film version with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the starring roles, I expected to enjoy the book version, and was not disappointed. The level of detail about how the tricks were done, and what the art of stage magician was all about is fascinating.
Gripping, memorable, disturbing story about what people are prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve their ambition, and the folly of human grudges. Highly recommended.