The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister is a powerful, tense tale of love and dread in the life of an extraordinary young woman. The Magician’s Lie chronicles the early life of the most famous illusionist of her time, The Amazing Arden. From growing up in the affluent household of her grandparents, to the stages of Chicago and New York.
“..This is the routine now, every night.
This is the life of the most famed female illusionist in the world, very nearly the only one in existence, the life I have made for myself through luck and talent and sheer will. This is the life I have decided to leave behind. This is the life I will end.
Tonight, I will escape my torturer, once and for all time.
Tonight, I will kill him…”
One night in Waterloo, Iowa, Virgil Holt, a young policeman watches the Amazing Arden perform. He is from the smaller town of Janesville, fifteen miles away by horseback. Later that evening, he is brought in to view a body, torn apart beneath the stage. As he heads home, he stops for a meal and drinks in a local bar. As he sits mulling over his own life, the Amazing Arden staggers in, her bags packed and blood on her clothes. Holt promptly arrests her and as he has her in his office, she begins to tell him her story. Of love, of terror and of her own innocence.
But Holt knows that the Amazing Arden makes her life from deceiving people and is this story another illusion she is weaving to convince him to let her go. Handcuffed to a chair, as she speaks, the Illusionist tells the story of her life. Of her escape from her mother’s poor decisions to taking charge of her life. To the terror of the man who would never let her go. The man who followed her. The man who tortured her. The man she had to escape. The man who lies dead underneath her stage.
First off, this is not Water For Elephants. This is not The Night Circus. Nor is it somehow their bastard child from a wild night of craziness. I absolutely hate that kind of marketing. It sets expectations that almost always will leave the reader critical of the final product. It is however a very well written and plotted book. Is it romance? Paranormal? A period piece? Yes and no to all of those.
What it is, is an entertaining tale of one woman who rises above her place in the world and yet is haunted by those who wish to hold her down. In this case, a step cousin who would possess her, psychically and mentally. Ray, convinced of his own ability to perform magic as a healer, tortures her daily only to heal her. Unknown to him, she possesses the magic to heal herself. In the midst of this she is taking charge of her own life when Ray is not in the picture and becoming a powerful woman when all other women cannot. But Ray is never gone for long and he continually finds her.
This is a very good book up until the last twenty pages or so. Officer Holt is a wonderful character, incredibly flawed who views his capture of the suspected murderess as an opportunity to redeem his career. But his commitment to the truth may keep him from following through. Arden, herself is a character whose narrative keeps the flow and passion of the novel on track, her life is intriguing and full of equal measures of hope and despair.
But the ending rushed and formulatic. Disappointing in what up to that point had been an original and risky novel. It simply ran out of gas.
I enjoyed it but ultimately came away disappointed.