Christopher Priest lives in England.
Notions of doubleness pervade this tale of a feud between the families ot two Victorian-era magicians. Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier have spent their careers trying to sabotage one another. When Borden ups the ante by developing a seemingly impossible trick in which he is moved across the stage in a unimaginable short time, Angier responds by enlisting inventor Nikola Tesla to build a turn-of-the-century version of a Star Trek-like transporter. The magicians' story is framed by that of two descendants, affected by the feud in ways they are only beginning to fathom, who meet at the Angier family's desolate country estate. Mixing elements of the psychological novel with fantasy, this is an inventive, if somewhat far-fetched, British neo-Gothic. For most collections.‘Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass.
Priest, one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists (1983 list), has not been overproductive since he made a small reputation with The Affirmation and The Glamour, published here more than a dozen years ago. His new novel (the title of which refers to the residue left after a magician's successful trick) is enthrallingly odd. In a carefully calculated period style that is remarkably akin to that of the late Robertson Davies, Priest writes of a pair of rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London. Each has a winning trick the other craves, but so arcane is the nature of these tricks, so incredibly difficult are they to perform, that they take on a peculiar life of their own‘in one case involving a mysterious apparent double identity, in the other a reliance on the ferocious powers unleashed in the early experimental years of electricity. The rivalry of the two men is such that in the end, though both are ashamed of the strength of their feelings of spite and envy, it consumes them both, and affects their respective families for generations. This is a complex tale that must have been extremely difficult to tell in exactly the right sequence, while still maintaining a series of shocks to the very end. Priest has brought it off with great imagination and skill. It's only fair to say, though, that the book's very considerable narrative grip is its principal virtue. The characters and incidents have a decidedly Gothic cast, and only the restraint that marks the story's telling keeps it on the rails. (Oct.)
"A brilliant conjuring act by one of the master illusionists of our time."--"Wired" on "The Prestige""""One of our most gifted writers."--John Fowles on "The Prestige""""Extraordinary--like a dazzling magic act!"--"Entertainment Weekly "on "The Prestige""""A dizzying show of a novel....Imagine "Possession" rewritten by Barbara Vine, or Robertson Davies at his most smoothly diabolical. A brilliantly constructed entertainment!"--"The ""Washington"" Post "on "The Prestige""""As ingenious as it is suspenseful."--"Newsday "on "The Prestige" "Nothing quite prepares you for the sinister complexity and imaginative flair of "The Prestige" . . . Magnificently eerie."--Anthony Quinn, "The Sunday Times" "Beautifully written . . . Two magicians vie with each other to create the perfect illusion: vanishing from one part of the stage and reappearing instantaneously in another. It's a story of utter fakery and scientific audacity. The pioneer of electrical power, Nikola Tesla, appears in a supporting role; to say more would reveal too much. Priest masters the merging of SF and mainstream, and "The Prestige" is his finest novel to date."--"New Scientist" on "The Prestige" "A taut, twisting, prize-winning story of two magicians and their fierce fin-de-siecle rivalry that taints successive generations of their respective families...An unexpectedly compelling fusion of weird science and legerdemain."--"Kirkus" on "The Prestige" "Remarkably akin to the style of the late Robertson Davies...Priest has brought it off with great imagination and skill."--"Publishers Weekly" on "The Prestige" "Hypnotic..."The Prestige" provides the satisfaction of an ambitious and well-told entertainment."--"San Francisco"" Chronicle" ""The Prestige" is in every way a marvelously scary entertainment with one of the creepiest final revelations in recent years. Don't miss the magic show!"--Gahan Wilson, "Realms of Fantasy" "Just as a magic act should be: filled with haunting marvels."--"Time Out ""London" on "The Prestige""