Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Becky Brendel

What I Read: The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: The Amazing Arden won fame as a female illusionist by cutting a man in half on stage. When her husband's body is found in the wings of her latest venue, split just like the men in her tricks, police jump to Arden as the prime subject. Captured by an officer but not yet turned in, Arden pleads her innocence, but claims explaining will involve revealing her entire life story. Which she does - but is she telling the truth?

What I Thought: Like Arden's magic acts, this book spans genres - one part 1,001 Nights, one part historical thriller, and one part commentary on women's rights, with a little magical realism thrown in for good measure. To Macallister's credit, the book doesn't feel stitched together: no one element of the story outweighs the other, and alternating between Arden's life story and what's happening to her in the present ratchets up the tension in both narratives while also allowing Arden to "misdirect" both her in-book audience and the reader: a crucial part of any illusion. It helps that she's telling a harrowing tale: a major character in the book is so overtly evil he nearly becomes a stereotype, but he's also so convincingly creepy and slimy that instead of rolling my eyes, I shuddered and awaited the day he'd be out of Arden's life for good.

Aside from a few clunkily-ominous pieces of foreshadowing on Arden's part, the prose flows smoothly, and there's several clever metaphors contrasting Arden and her captor. Whether the book can pull off those metaphors convincingly, making this illusion act more than just a trick of the light, is for each reader to decide - but I was diverted, and I'll definitely be attending Greer Macallister's next "show".

Readalikes: The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman, for more historical fiction about women making the best of bad situations; Madam by Cari Lynn, for the same - except laced with magic.

Or look this book up on NoveList!