I know you’re angry. It’s true, I was sent to expose your mentor as a fraud illusionist, and instead I have put your secret in jeopardy. I fear I have even put your life in jeopardy. For that I can only beg your forgiveness. I’ve fallen for you. You know I have. And I never wanted to create a rift between us, but if it means protecting you from those who wish you dead—I’ll do it. I’ll do anything to keep you safe, whatever the sacrifice. Please forgive me for all I’ve done and what I’m about to do next. I promise, it’s one magic trick no one will ever see coming.
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I came to this book expecting an exciting story about the lives of magicians entertaining people in the late 1800s. As someone who loves stories about old show business, I just KNEW that I was going to love this one. What I got was so much more than what I could have ever dreamed of.
When I started reading the novel, I was reading chapters flipping back and forth between Thomas and Sav’s diary entries. They hadn’t met yet, and I wasn’t sure when they were going to meet. All I knew was that they were both magicians apprentices and that the magicians the boys worked for were competing against each other. Then, they cross paths. Thomas starts wanting to talk to the mysterious stranger who keeps coming to his shows, and Sav needs to know how Thomas and Neville pull off their disappearing trick. Sav never plans to fall for Thomas, and Thomas definitely doesn’t plan on falling for him. But they do, and Sav has to decide whether to abandon his master and stay with his magic boy, or to reveal Thomas’ secrets and ruin his life.
I haven’t read any LGBT Victorian romance novels, so I didn’t know what to expect once I saw how romantic that this was getting. It was interesting to see their relationship dynamic, and how almost freeing it was for them. Without the internet, they were able to keep more under the radar of the local homophobic citizens. They could just stay in their flat or go on dates at night, and barely anybody would be out to see them. It seemed like a normal YA romance novel, except I thought that Thomas and Sav had more chemistry than most YA couples usually do.
Thomas has magic, but I felt that his magic could have been explored a bit more. The book never explains why Thomas has magic, how he found out that he had magic, and how he was able to use/control his powers. The story was still long without this bit of filler, but I would have liked to know a little bit more about how his powers specifically worked.
Sav also has a “rags-to-riches” backstory that is mentioned a few times in the novel, but is again never explored in depth. Since the book was set up in diary format, I think that there were opportunities for Sav to reflect on his past more.
Even though the book didn’t discuss the characters’ backstories as much, the characters’ current personalities were developed in amazing ways. Thomas was a shy apprentice, but he got stronger as he fell harder for Sav and continued to help Neville in his performances. The outcome of the performances reflected his emotional state. When he was upset, the performance didn’t go well. When he was happily in love, the performances went perfectly. Same with Sav. He started the story being strong, stoic and refusing to open up to Thomas. He had to learn how to break out of his shell, opening up to and trusting Thomas.
There was just so much depth to this book. I have never read a book about show business or magic shows just like this one. I would literally recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction, or YA LGBTQ+ romance.
I received an advance copy of this book, and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
About the Author
Madeline J. Reynolds is a YA fantasy author living in Chicago. Originally from Minneapolis, she has a background in journalism and has always loved storytelling in its various forms. When not writing, she can be found exploring the city, eating Thai food, or lost in an epic Lord of the Rings marathon.
(Two print copies – US only)
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