The Prestige

by Christopher Priest | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 0312858868 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 6/26/2015
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, June 26, 2015
I found this good-condition softcover at a local Savers thrift shop. It's about two rival magicians in the late 1800s, whose animosity towards each other may have ramifications for the modern generation.

The story's hard to talk about in any detail because of the fundamental plot twists. (I knew about them going in, and enjoyed the story anyway; not sure how differently I'd have felt about it if I'd only discovered the truth near the end of the novel.) I did enjoy the framing device - modern-day fellow receives ancestor's journal in the mail and gets caught up in events from his own near-forgotten childhood as well as from several generations back. The book appears in different segments - the framing device, the journal itself, the rival's journal, and a few other inserts - and it's only by comparing the different depictions of the same events that we begin to work out just what's going on here.

The basic plot of dueling magicians is interesting in its own right - and has the amusing advantage of having one magician's journal begin with an emphasis on secrecy, and an overt statement that the journal itself might not be what it appears. You have been warned!

The examples of actual stagecraft were intriguing too, with some tricks being explained and others kept obscure. And then we learn how the rivalry began between the magicians: one dabbled in spiritualism, the other objected to the use of stage-magician craft to fake ghostly encounters (because it might lead to revelations of the stage tricks, not because he felt especially badly for the people who hired the spiritualists). The objector sabotaged the first man's tricks at one particular seance, and this (and the side effects, which the saboteur was not aware of) kicked off a feud that would affect the course of both men's lives.

While it was quite chilling to realize what was really going on by the climax of the story, I admit I found it less disturbing than I'd expected - perhaps because the key narrators are very detached and chilly in their tone (not to mention deliberately secretive). Still, it was quite an experience to see the layers pull back to reveal what happened to these people and why it still matters to the living descendants.

[There's a TV Tropes page about the 2006 film with some references to the novel. I gather the film takes quite a few liberties with the story, while retaining the central construction.]

Released 4 yrs ago (7/3/2015 UTC) at Central Street (see text for details) in Lowell, Massachusetts USA


I left this book propped up on the bridge over the canal just south of the Market St. intersection at around 3:30; hope the finder enjoys it!

*** Released for the 2015 Allergic to A challenge. ***

*** Released as part of the 2015 Movie release challenge. ***

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