Published by Tor on April 7, 2020
The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer is a historical fantasy of manners set in the early 1900s. This book is a serious bit of cover porn – gorgeous! It reminded me, in a good way, of The Prestige by Christopher Priest with its storyline about stage magicians and their rivalries.
Thalia is a young woman who inherited both her father’s act and his manager, Nutall. Her livelihood is threatened when a rival gets her fired and she’s unable to find work elsewhere.
She discovers that the rival stole his big illusion from her father. Determined to set things straight, Thalia and Nutall attend the rival’s performance, only to see him murdered on stage. Nutall’s arrested in the aftermath and it’s up to Thalia to clear his name.
Things get complicated when she discovers that she’s not a simple Solitaire, a non-magical human, but a Trader, a two-natured person with an animal shape. She needs to figure out her new powers before her magic is devoured by a Manticore, a beast that stalks those new to their dual natures. The clock is ticking as the Manticore gets closer to finding her and destroying her powers.
Lots of world-building and historical research on display. And the author gives a fascinating look behind the curtain at the life of a Vaudeville magician. While it’s not listed as being part of a series, this felt very much like a first book – lots of explanation and stage setting for future books.
Do you enjoy this type of fantasy or a more epic saga fantasy? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.
For fans of Patricia Wrede and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for the DRC.