Officer Virgil Holt is heading home with bad news regarding a recent injury when he stumbles upon Arden at a restaurant the next city over. Recognizing her as the stage magician The Amazing Arden – the most successful female magician of her time, and quite possibly guilty of murder – Holt takes Arden in for questioning. Over the course of the night Arden tells her tale, starting from her childhood. She radiates confidence and vulnerability in equal measure, and Holt finds himself captivated but unsure about how much of her tale is true.
“Days that change your life don’t always feel momentous. It’s hard to know when or where the whole world will shift into something new. You can only stay alert and watchful and take things as they come.”
Readers of The Magician’s Lie will become completely entranced by the tale that Arden weaves. The book has hints of the supernatural, and a touch of the Cinderella tale – from the story being told over a single evening and Arden’s rise from poverty to riches, to Arden’s own personal brand of magic – but the main focus is on Arden’s life as a magician. It is an exciting, uncertain, and dangerous world, and one that Arden’s love for seeps into the readers as they delve through the pages. Even though she doesn’t discover that life until nearly halfway through the book, Arden’s trials are captivating.
The book is historical fiction, and has several historical figures and events that populate its pages. There is humor and wonder, but also tragedy and fear. The book discusses abuse, both physical and mental, so readers may find certain segments of the book disturbing. The “twist” ending wasn’t terribly disguised, so discerning readers will see it coming. However, figuring out how the story ends doesn’t lessen the overall enjoyment of the novel.
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