Take Ten: You Can Do Magic…

Those of us living here in the Magic Valley tend to equate magic with water. After all, we’d be a land of lava rocks and sagebrush if Perrine and his investors hadn’t crafted an irrigation system to water our high desert. But our list today deals with a more ‘common’ idea of magic – that of using mysterious forces to influence our surroundings. The following books all deal with magicians, whether they are simple sleight of hand practitioners or if they practice on a more mystical level. Regardless of your choice, you’ll probably find that the outside world seems to disappear as you’re reading… without even waving a wand.


The Bullet Trick – Louise Welch

  • Delighted when his agent books him for a series of Berlin cabaret appearances, mentalist and conjurer William Wilson soon finds himself in over his head thanks to some dangerous after-hours work and dark secrets from his past.

Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gold

  • In 1920, Charles Carter, known as Carter the Great, who became a master illusionist out of loneliness and desperation, creates the most outrageous stunt of all, involving President Harding–one that could cause his downfall.

Dreams and Shadows – Robert C. Cargill

  • Swapped for a changeling by the Bendith Y Mamau when he was just an infant, Ewan Thatcher grows up in the Limestone Kingdom — a magical realm located, oddly enough, just outside of Austin, Texas. But Ewan isn’t the only human to end up in this mythical place. Thanks to the intervention of the djinn Yashar, young Colby Stephens gets his wish: to become a wizard. But life in the Limestone Kingdom is far from paradise: scheming gods and fairies have their own plans for their mortal wards.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke

  • In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norrell, who has regained some of the power of England’s magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell’s pupil.

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

  • Harboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.

The Magician’s Assistant – Ann Patchett

  • After the death of a homosexual magician, his female assistant journeys from Los Angeles to Nebraska in search of the man’s hidden past and discovers his estranged family, as well as the love she has always been denied.

The Magician’s Lie – Greer Macallister

  • Arden is a famous illusionist whose show involves sawing a man in half, but one night, she grabs an axe instead of a knife and her husband is found dead under the stage. Can Arden, an expert at deception, get away with murder–or is she really innocent? Recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction, strong women characters, and surprisingly twisty plots.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

  • A fierce competition is underway, a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in “a game,” in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

The Paper Magician – Charlie Holmberg

  • Bound to a magic she never wanted, a young apprentice falls deeper into its mysteries when she must use everything she’s learned from her master in order to save him, and his heart.

Zig Zag Girl – Elly Griffiths

  • Investigating a murder committed in the style of a famous magic trick, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens reconnects with an illusionist friend from World War II to uncover links to their special ops service.


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