Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: The Prestige

Why did I assume I would dislike The Prestige? There were several reasons:

  • It is about magicians, a class of entertainers I tolerate only slightly better than mimes or clowns.
  • It is set during a period of time I am bored with, no matter how enduringly popular in novels – the Civil War through World War I.
  • I had already seen the movie, and I dislike reading a book when I already know what the story, especially a story with big secrets like this one.
  • I really do not like speculative fiction in any of its broad forms – fantasy, paranormal, or science-fiction.

But I read it anyway because it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and I am working my way diligently through that list. I am so glad I did!

Christopher Priest's novel is the story of two rival magicians at the turn of the 20th Century, vying to outdo each other in an illusion featuring a disappearing man. Both have secrets that follow them to the grave – and beyond – that are only revealed when their grandchildren meet up decades later.

Because Priest is such a first class storyteller, he created a drama that is entirely believable – no matter how scientifically farfetched – and mesmerizing, even for readers who know the secrets from the movie. I was completely entranced.

Even though The Prestige runs contrary to many of my book prejudices, it could end up as my favorite book of 2013 – pretty big words, considering it is only January.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


The Prestige counts as my second Black winner for the 2012 Battle of the Prizes, British Version, which runs through January 31, 2013.   I have now finished that challenge.  Whew!


  1. I wouldn't have considered reading this one because I share your list of dislikes. However, now I think I'll look for it. It just may surprise me too.

    BTW, I hope the crows have left downtown Portland. They even made the news here in PA.

  2. Hi Gilion,

    I really don't think that this book would be one for me either.

    The overriding reason for me, would be our mutual dislike of magicians, mimes and clowns. We have been to see the permanent Cirque de Soleil presentation of La Nouba, in Florida, some 15 times and it never fails to amaze me, that amongst all the truly breathtaking and artistic performances, one of the biggest cheers always goes up for the clowns, when they only leave me feeling cold and slightly embarrassed.

    Thanks for an honest review.


  3. You've really renewed my interest in this one. I'll have to get to it sooner than later! I'll be waiting too to see if it ends up on your "best of the year" list.

  4. I am glad you reviewed this. I probably never would have considered reading this, but your comments convinced me that I would like it... if I run into a copy. Have so many on my TBR stacks that I won't be looking to add more anytime soon.

    I like sci fi better than fantasy, but I like a good story no matter what genre.

  5. Congratulations on finishing a challenge!

    And, it's been a while since I've thrown down for an RCR review, but this one can go on the to-read list.


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