I am, as far as I can tell, the only person on this planet that did not like the movie that was made from this book. Because the movie seemed to have a cool premise, I thought I would read the book, because clearly, the book would be better, right?
Maybe? Not that I don't think this is better than the movie, it is. What I'm not sure about is if it's worth the extra time it takes to read the whole book, vs watching the not-so-great movie. (I sincerely hope that made sense). The movie does benefit from the fact that we're talking about illusions, here, which is decidedly more effective to show off visually.
Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden are warring Victoria era illusionists/magicians. They got into a kerfluffle. They got angry. They feuded. And so we come to present day, when Kate and Andrew (their great grandchildren, respectively) try to sort the whole thing out.
The story is primarily told through the diaries of the illusionists. That's good and bad. Upside, is that it's a fantastic mechanism to explain motivations, see their different takes on the same situations, and get all kinds of information across that you can't show. Downside is that this is very much a "told, not shown" kind of story.
In the end, I think it worked well. Very atmospheric, wonderfully suspenseful and Victorian. And I think it serves this book well that we are left with all kinds of questions. I don't think all of the best books show *everything*, in fact, the good ones should leave something to the imagination. Use your brains, readers. I <3 authors that don't treat their readers like idiots or spoon feed them every tidbit of information.
My biggest problem was a few quibbles - mostly that I didn't care for the characters. The two main characters are just downright unlikeable. They're horrible men. They really are. Then again, maybe Priest didn't want me to like them. Kate and Andrew were the flattest characters I've read in quite a long time. I just didn't care about their parts of the story and they were decidedly undeveloped (not that they get much face time). The language through the diaries was modern, and I'm not sure if I should be grateful that Priest made it easy on me, or annoyed at him for failing to fully create a Victorian feeling by not working a little harder on that.
I think the thing that bothered me the most was this whole "multi-generational feud" thing. Two dudes got in each other's faces. That's it. It started off with a relatively trivial matter, which is so insanely realistic, I love it, but there was no indication of why it was that people further down the line would bother to keep the feud going, unless everyone just felt the need to be unrepentant assholes. I don't get it. I don't get the motivations about any of it. Angier and Borden - yes, their descendants, no. I hoped by the time the book was done, we'd have a better look at some of the motivation to keep the feud going (especially with the actions of Kate's father).
It was pretty solid book. It was artful and mysterious and beautifully done for the most part. I loved the (final) ending, as well, very gothically done.
So all in all, a little better than a "meh", but I wouldn't recommend it highly.