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The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

The Magician's Lie

by Greer Macallister

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"We all carry something inside us that could kill us; yours just has a name. You want to change your life? Change it. You have no less of a right to be happy than the rest of us." The Magician's Lie is such a well told story. From the beginning, you want to believe the Amazing Arden when she proclaims her innocence. And yet, like the officer, you are skeptical because of who she is. You are swept along as she begins to tell her story, and while there are times when you feel certain she is guilty, you hold out hope that she isn't. Greer Macallister did a wonderful job creating a story that pulls in you, a story in which you feel as if you are there with Arden, seeing things through her eyes. Is she innocent or is she guilty? You'll have to read it to find out. ( )
  Bookseiffel | Feb 23, 2018 |
Review originally posted on my blog: http://www.literaryfeline.com/2016/08/bookish-thoughts-magicians-lie-by-greer.ht...

Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2015
Fiction (Historical); 320 pgs
Source: E-Copy provided by Publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Magic of all kinds fascinates me. Whether the kind you find in fantasy novels or the more realistic illusionist kind, which is what you find in The Magician's Lie. Set in the late 19th century, The Magician's Lie is a novel about survival at all costs. The Amazing Arden, the country's most notorious illusionist, has one night to convince small town police officer Virgil Holt to let her go after her husband has been found murdered.

The Magician's Lie felt less like a mystery to me than it did a rags to riches sort of story, with suspense built in. The now famous Arden begins her story in childhood, taking the reader through her beginnings up through her successful career. She talks about the hardships she faced, including her relationship with her mother, her cousin Ray, and her broken heart. Her stage name of the Amazing Arden suits her. She is a resilient and clever, creative and thoughtful. The novel is set up so the reader is unsure whether to completely trust Arden as she shares her story with Virgil. How much, if any, is just a story she is telling to get out of her current situation? Or is it all true? Virgil is skeptical and yet a part of him wants to believe. For if her story is, in fact, true, perhaps she has something to offer him he desperately needs.

I found it impossible not to root for Arden all along the way. I understood her reluctance to love again, her strong belief in self-reliance, and her fear of the shadows of her past. As for Virgil, I felt for him too. He is in a difficult position, having lost hope, but wanting to find that hope again. He is at a crossroads, as is Arden.

The author's attention to historical detail shines through in capturing the mood and tone of the day. I especially liked that she interspersed truth with fiction, with a nod to the famous female illusionist Adelaide Hermann, who makes an appearance in the novel. Greer Macallister's writing is compelling, and perhaps infused with a little magic of its own the way the book kept me under its spell.

( )
  LiteraryFeline | Nov 25, 2017 |
When I saw the comment that this book was compared to a cross between "Water For Elephants" and "The Night Circus", I knew that I had to read it. It did not disappoint! The Amazing Arden is a rarity, a female illusionist whose signature illusion has become the act of sawing a man in half. On one fated night in Waterloo, Iowa, Arden suddenly changes her trick, using an axe instead of a saw and then disappears into thin air. When her husband's body is found beneath the stage, murder is the conclusion reached by all. As she flees into the night, she encounters a young policeman, Virgil Holt, who apprehends her and grabs at his chance for glory. But things are not always as they appear. Now Virgil has only one night to listen to Arden's confession in an attempt to determine her guilt. As she skillfully spins the story of her life around him, he must wrestle with what is true, what that truth means for his future, and what he will do next. I highly recommend this book. It is a fantastic read, I couldn't put it down!

Bettina P. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
The Amazing Arden is a female magician who is a popular touring act in local theatres in the early years of the twentieth century. When her husband is found murdered Arden is captured by Virgil, local lawman and placed in the station overnight. As Virgil guards Arden he tries to get her to confess to the crime but instead she tells him her life story. Arden is woman who practices the art of illusion and Virgil is a man with his own worries, will Arden tell the truth or will she try to escape?

At times this book is completely wonderful, poetic, romantic escapism. However it is not consistent the whole way through. I liked the structure, Arden confessing over the course of a night but felt that the sections where Arden and Virgil spoke were almost unnecessary as they made me want to find out more of Virgil's story which was very lightly sketched. I also felt the fey nature of Arden's 'power' was a slightly odd note. I felt Ray was a suitably menacing villain although I was not convinced of his hold on Arden. Having said that I loved tales of life in the huge mansions and the theatres of turn of the century America. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
This could have been so much better. The ending was rushed and sloppy. And the story itself - while compelling - was lost in the way it was told. It was so unrealistic to think she would have told her story in this level of detail to the policeman over the course of a night. Plus the whole healing premise (and the loose connection tried to be made to the policeman's life) really never came together.
But you'll notice I still gave the damn book a 3. So yeah, I enjoyed reading it despite all its flaws. ( )
  mfabriz | Jun 26, 2017 |
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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.… (more)

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