This past Friday, I brought the novel to school to read during SSR (on Fridays, every one of my classes, and I see three each day, starts class by doing Sustained, Silent Reading for the first 15-20 minutes), thinking that by having 45-60 minutes of reading would get me to focus on the novel and not worry about anything else, and I would finally be able to read more than just the first two chapters. That thought process worked; I was finally able to get in to the novel and I could not really figure out what had stopped me before.
|image courtesy of Goodreads.com|
The Magician's Lie is a unique historical novel, one that ties a woman's determination to be free, independent, and strong with some dark undertones. In Macallister's debut novel, Arden (born Ada) is the country's most famous female illusionist who is arrested for her husband's murder. She has one night to convince Virgil Holt, a small-town police officer, of her innocence.
Arden spends the evening telling her story, starting with her childhood. Her mother, a musician born into a wealthy family, has Arden out of wedlock and then elopes with another man, landing them on a remote, struggling farm. Although Arden finds joy in learning ballet, she is systematically stalked and terrified by Ray, her stepfather's psychopathic nephew. Ray is obsessed with the idea that he can injure people and then heal them. While he begins with torturing animals and cutting himself, it is clear his real goal is Arden. Ray goes out of his way to stop Arden from achieving her goals of entering the world of professional ballet and leaving the farm, including breaking her leg so she cannot dance.
While Arden tells Holt she is not an escape artist, she spends most of her life escaping. After her mother refuses to believe her account of Ray;s abuse, Arden escapes to the Biltmore. There, she finds a job as one of the mansions numerous servants. She falls in love with a handsome young gardener named Clyde, who has ambitions to escape the Biltmore and become a landscape artist in New York. At first Arden trusts Clyde completely, but then she realizes she trusted him too much, so she flees from him.
Throughout the novel, she is running from Ray, sometimes physically and always emotionally. As a professional illusionist, first under the tutelage of another female illusionist and then with her own show, she is always on the road...always escaping from one town to the next. As she tells her story, though, she is also trying to escape from Holt, whether on her own by convincing him of her innocence, or with assistance from another unknown source.
The entire time I was reading The Magician's Lie, I kept waiting to find out what the lie was. That word is part of the title, so it had to be important. What was it that Arden was lying about? That question lingers in the back of the reader's mind throughout the entire novel.
Once I was able to actually focus on what I was reading, I was completely caught up in Arden's journey. The story arc was well-structured and I really liked how everything came together in the end. On occasion, it felt like the story dragged a bit because there were just so many details, but that being said, I think the attention to detail is what created such a rich and vivid story. I give the novel an 8.5 out of 10 and I cannot wait for Macallister to write a second novel.
P.S. Let me know if you have any suggestions for what I read next. My "to read" pile has significantly dwindled and I need ideas as to what I should get lost in next. :)