Review: The Magician’s Lie

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

[This is the UK release of an award winning and soon-to-be-filmed US best-seller.]

When does an illusion become more than an illusion? When does a story, our personal history, become more than a story we tell ourselves and become the truth that defines who we are? Is it, perhaps, only the unlikely nature of the tale that makes the onlooker think that they are being told a lie?

But what if it is all true, or mostly true bar one, little lie…

MagiciansLieIn The Magician’s Lie, we see such a story unfold through the eyes of a small-town sheriff, Officer Holt, who desperately needs that career-defining arrest. He has the murderer in his custody – he saw her chop the victim in half, on the stage, in front of his eyes.

At least, he thinks it is the victim because the victim was found, in the same shattered, coffin-like box, chopped in half not long after the murderer – an illusionist – disappeared from the stage.

What makes the tale more incredible is that the magician has a gift, one we might all envy and that is not too far fetched. We all know someone who heals quickly, whose bruises never last for long, whose cuts and grazes seem to disappear in days.

Our hero – the Incredible Arden, though that is not her real name – has such a gift, though a little more keenly than one might expect. Though her version of it is exagerated, it is believably so – and is needed for her nemesis is the antithesis, someone who enjoys causing pain and ‘healing’ those he hurts. When he finds he can cause as much pain and damage as he wants and Arden will still recover…. well, you can imagine the delight he feels.

But to Officer Holt’s eyes, it is unbelievable that such a situation could arise: it is obviously a lie that Arden creates to gain our sympathy. To him – and to us – it is obviously a tale, a love story and a lie that gets richer and deeper the she more she tries to cover up her guilt.

Perhaps Arden has elements of Scheherezade as she tries to keep the attention of her tame police officer. She weaves an illusion around the intimacy of an interrogation that is all true but in one, small, respect – and we become so caught up in the tale that we do not see the illusion inherent in her escape, though it is hinted at so many times. But it is not just her who escapes from a private hell, but Officer Holt, as well, and we cannot help but feel relief and joy for them both as justice is done.

Or do we forget that that can be an illusion as well?

You are pulled into the life-story Arden weaves, but it is so continually engaging and so distracting that you forget you near the end until it realise what you have forgotten. It certainly deserves the praise it has already received.

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