A quick, thoroughly enjoyable read, delving into a world of magic and illusion.
When I saw that this book was compared to The Night Circus, and hailed as a great read by none other than Oprah Winfrey herself, I felt duty bound to request a copy. I'm a total sucker for anything relating to magic, and this promised to be an entertaining read.
Whilst I didn't feel that it was anything like the Night Circus(not sure who came up with that comparison), it was an enjoyable, well imagined read nonetheless.
We meet Arden, one of the world's only female illusionists, on the run. She's suspected of killing her husband on-stage, and looks as though she'll escape, until Virgil, a policeman, catches her and handcuffs her to a chair.
Whilst imprisoned, she begins to tell him the story of her life; starting off as the daughter of a weak-willed woman who married for money, she quickly falls foul of Ray, a sinister boy with a penchant for hurting people. After a rape attempt, she flees, finding safety as a servant. But, as you might expect, this lady is destined for better things, and along with the handsome, feckless Clyde, she runs away to New York.
It's there that she joins a travelling magic show, run by a formidable female called Adelaide, who gives her a taste for the magical life...which she manages perfectly, until the fateful day she's collared for murder.
There was much that was great about this book. I love a good old 'quick read' sometimes - and that's not me being disparaging; sometimes it's a welcome change to have a book that you can devour easily in a few sittings. The action was well paced and compelling, and kept me turning page after page, eager to know what happened next.
Likewise, it was impossible not to like Arden (or Ada, as she starts out). She's a feisty little thing, strong-willed and thoroughly in charge of her own destiny throughout, which is always nice to see. Likewise, Ray was genuinely horrible (ugh, the body scars - terrifying!) and Clyde was a loveable rogue.
One criticism I'd level at the book, is that the 'present day' chapters didn't feel nearly so rich or well-realised. I didn't feel I knew the policeman much, and nor did I particularly care about him. I know he was only a foil against which to spin the yarn of Arden's life, but it felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity, as his character could have been much better utilised.
But I could overlook this just fine, as the rest of the book was a rippingly fun read.