- Written By: Greer Macallister
- Published By: Sourcebook Landmarks, January 13, 2015
- Length: 320 pages
- Source: Publisher in consideration of an honest review, as part of She Reads
Summary: The Amazing Arden is a female illusionist, the best, one of few in a field dominated by men. She is traveling with her show in Waterloo Iowa, the show goes on as usual, the highlight of the show is an act where a man is usually sawed in half, only to survive. This night she uses an axe, but the man is still fine. Witnessed by many. Later that evening a man is found dead, killed by the same axe, the man is Arden’s husband. When a young police man, Virgil Holt later captures Arden and takes her to his station for holding she begins to tell him a tale that is both shocking and engaging. This one night will change both their lives.
My Thoughts: When I learned this book was a winter choice from She Reads I was elated. Look at that cover, isn’t it gorgeous? I was drawn to it immediately. Thankfully the writing and story were just as endearing.
Arden is a woman with a past, she’s lived many lives already. When she is captured by Virgil Holt she is held in his jail all night. He handcuffs her several times to a chair and so the long evening begins. Arden explains to Virgil she’s not a murderer, and not an escape artist, so the multiple cuffs are unnecessary. In alternating chapters of this one night, and Arden telling Virgil where she has come from we learn her story.
The words are beautiful and seem to paint a vision which is what all novels should do. I was able to see her awful youth, her desperate desire to leave it behind begin again. She is over and over again broken, and able recreate herself. Her mother was a selfish and awful person, she was no help to Arden.
The setting begins in the East and moves to rural farms and to the Biltmore Estate at it’s very beginnings. As Arden travels as an illusionist she is taken all over the US. She has this uncanny ability to read all about Virgil and his life, she asks him simple questions, to learn about him, so know him better, to determine her chances of escaping his jail.
This is a beautiful and captivating novel, historical, so uniquely told. Highly recommend.