Book Review: The Magician’s Lie, by Greer Macallister #Legend100

Publisher:  Legend Press

Publication date:  3rd April 2017


the-magicians-lieThe Magician’s Lie explores the life story of a famous fictional illusionist who possesses a phoenix complex, having the ability to re-invent herself by rising from the ashes of her early traumatic life. While some traumas she can never escape others she must exploit to her best advantage. If only her astonishing performance skills and notorious abilities could conjure a solution to her current circumstances.

We’re transported to Iowa 1905 and Officer Virgil Holt is watching the performance of the Amazing Arden from the very back of the theatre. Her act is not like any other insomuch as she is the main attraction, not a predicable stage accessory to provide a useful distraction when required.

It’s evident she can hold an audience in the palm of her hand as they are in awe of her exploits, waiting patiently for her grand finale where she appears to cut a man in half. Shortly after the breath-taking scene Holt learns that an actual man has been savagely murdered and his body crudely concealed inside one of the props, which is not looking good for the Amazing Arden considering the ‘Halved Man’ act he’s just witnessed and that Arden has amazingly ‘disappeared’.

We learn that Holt has received disturbing news about his health which he’s reluctantly putting off telling his wife as he travels home for the evening.  Perhaps that’s why he’s the perfect person to stumble across the suspect quite by chance; he’s got some time to kill and the person in his custody has a very special story to tell.

It’s no mean feat to narrate the majority of the tale leading up to the murder from the uncomfortable surroundings of a small town police station: two people, one room, and events that conspired to lead us to this point in time. The conversation cleverly switches to scenes that occurred when her early dreams grew and faded, the sadistic cruelty of a family member she was forced to endure, and the mother who just wouldn’t listen. This didn’t feel like a usual interrogation between lawman and a suspect but more like a curious therapy session, as she was secured to a chair with several pairs of handcuffs rather than reclining on a couch.

From the beginning I was captivated by her intimate, heart-breaking, courageous story, including the intricate details of the illusions she perfected and the dogged determination of a survivor who refuses to give up. I believed the stage was being prepped as her best trick was yet to come, alas the grand finale didn’t quite materialise and I can only assume that the intended conclusion was overshadowed by my own expectations. I would have also liked a certain ‘talent’ to be explored because it wasn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon. Regardless of whether it was medical or indeed truly magical I’d have loved to know more.

Perhaps this is the magician’s ‘lie’. On the surface she’s just an ordinary woman with the extraordinary ability to enthral an audience, her distinctive dual-coloured eye making her wholly unforgettable. This particular illusionist puts on a show that has you hanging on her every word, and as her account ends at daybreak she allows you to draw your own conclusions.

Rating:   3/5

(My thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this title, for which it was my pleasure to read and provide an unbiased review.)

Legend 100 Club


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A USA Today Bestseller

‘[A] well-paced, evocative, and adventurous historical novel…’ —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

‘This is a book in which storylines twist, spiral and come together again in an ending as explosive as a poof of smoke from your chimney… or a top hat.’ –

‘Smart, intricately plotted… a richly imagined thriller.’ —PEOPLE magazine

‘This debut novel is historical fiction that blends magic, mystery, and romance.’ —Boston Globe, Pick of the Week

‘It’s a captivating yarn… Macallister, like the Amazing Arden, mesmerises her audience. No sleight of hand is necessary. An ambitious heroine and a captivating tale are all the magic she needs.’ —Washington Post

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. But one night she swaps her trademark saw for an axe. When Arden’s husband is found dead later that night, the answer seems clear, most of all to young policeman Virgil Holt.

Captured and taken into custody, all seems set for Arden’s swift confession. But she has a different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless, and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding.

A magical and mysterious historical thriller, perfect for fans of The Night Circus and Water for Elephants.



(Courtesy of Publisher’s website)

Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist. Her plays have been performed at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN’S LIE was a USA Today and MIBA Indie bestseller, an Indie Next, LibraryReads, and Target Book Club Pick, and was chosen by guest judge Whoopi Goldberg as a Book of the Month Club main selection. It has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films.