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London 1870: a terrifying place for a young, beautiful woman of limited means. But Eliza is modern before her time. Not for her the stifling if respectable conventionality of marriage, children, domestic drudgery. She longs for more.
Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil - a born showman whose dream is to run his own theatre company. Devil’s right-hand man is the improbably-named Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. Carlo and Devil clash at every opportunity and it constantly falls upon Eliza to broker an uneasy peace between them. And then there is Jasper Button. Mild-mannered, and a family man at heart, it is his gift as an artist which makes him the unlikely final member of the motley crew.
Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked: the fortune of one depends on the fortune of the other. And as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life.…
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Spirit on 05-30-14
Started well and went downhill
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
If the characters had been less annoying! The "independent" lady seemed to accept the arrogance, selfishnish and verging on violent "hero". It started off really interesting and I thought it would be about the characters in the playhouse. I enjoyed the victorian atmosphere and particularly Carlo. I continued listening to see if the hero would get his comeuppance.
What could Rosie Thomas have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
The two main characters could have had a different storyline!
Which character – as performed by Lucy Price-Lewis – was your favourite?
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Illusionists?
The last third of the book
Any additional comments?
I found it strange that people could find the hero attractive - he hinted several times that he could/would rape her.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Chloe on 12-07-15
Atmospheric tale of late Victorian music hall life
I chose The Illusionists after reading the blurb and being attracted by the concept of intrigue and mystery against the backdrop of a magician's stage show. Like most of us, the glamour of magic and illusion is appealing to me, and I had visions of a tale something like the Christian Bale film 'The Prestige', with competition and camaraderie between the main protagonists ending in potential conflict.
As it turned out, this was a little more mundane in terms of story, but very entertaining nonetheless. I couldn't really work out what genre the author was aiming for - thriller, period piece, romance - as the book has elements of all of these. There is a slight nod to the supernatural too, but only a hint which is developed far more in the sequel novel. The characters of Eliza and Devil are infuriating and appealing at the same time. The supporting players are interesting too, especially Carlo the Dwarf who is a brilliant but melancholy character destined to always play second fiddle to the handsome and charismatic Devil, much to his continual annoyance.
There were some strange plot points that never seemed to get fully developed - I won't mention them for fear of spoilers, but they were significant enough to make me think they would be important and they ended up going nowhere. There were a few cliches etc but overall, it was an entertaining read and prompted me to download the sequel to find out what happened next.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful