I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
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.
The Magician’s Lie is a novel set within the late 1800s, to early 1900s and follows the life of the Amazing Arden as she retells her life story to Virgil Holt, the police officer who has taken her into custody following the death of her husband. In an attempt to show her innocence, Arden tells a story of love, betrayal, trust, fear, and success that spans all the way back to her childhood helping Virgil to make an informed decision about her motives behind such an act.
Arden, a.k.a Ada Bates, is one of the greatest female illusionists of her time. On the run from her family and after a string of hiccups along the way, Ada makes her way to New York where she hopes to be a dancer. She is picked up by Adelaide, a female illusionist who is looking for a replacement dancer for one of her acts which results in Ada joining the travelling company and finding herself a new home in amongst the crew. Over time, she begins to take on more and more within the company until Adelaide’s retirement, where she is given the company to do with as she wishes, eventually becoming The Amazing Arden. Arden is a character full of history, something that is unraveled throughout the novel as she tells her story to Virgil. Due to the many hiccups throughout her life, she has had to grow a thick skin in order to protect herself from falling into the same mistakes she made before. However, she is forever haunted by one person from her past, Ray, a man who always seems to get his way over her – he is the man she fears.
Other than her thick skin and her ability to gain success exponentially as a female illusionist, Arden is also a character that can be related to. She is a woman/girl trying to better herself; coming from a poorer background due to the choices of her mother, Arden wants to obtain her dreams and make something of herself, to realise the potential she has been told she possesses. That feels extremely reminiscent of the current generation trying to obtain their dreams and better themselves through University, or other means, and it is a very humbling trait to see. Even when things go bad for Arden, you can see that her actions are, ultimately, for the good of herself and to help her grow within her life.
Alongside Arden’s story, Macallister does a very good job of describing setting and appearances. Not only is Arden herself magical, but the feelings of the cities she visits as her act and the way they respond to her definitely heighten this feeling with the bright lights, thunderous applause, and gasps of awe and shock, all add to the mysteriousness and magical qualities of Arden.
The Magician’s Lie is definitely a novel to be read, to understand the struggles that Arden overcomes and how you can, or cannot, become a better person because of it. But it also highlights the importance of background and how, you can progress further than what you were and that no-one needs to know your past, except your present and future. Arden is almost always running from something in her life. Even at the end, she is running and I believe that that is something she will never stop doing. I can definitely see why this novel has been a big hit.