How beautiful is the cover of this book? I love it. I guess you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but in this case, if you love the cover art here, I think you’ll probably love the book too!
This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review, and honestly… I really like Naremore’s writing style, and the flow of the book, but I maybe had some issues with the plot over all.
But to start at the beginning, this book is about Steve Kozwa, a young man who’s just got out of prison and is working to save money to move to New Zealand to start over. In his past is a relationship with a beautiful and enigmatic woman called Fox, a woman he can’t forget. His past slowly unfolds as we read further into the book, a kind of mystery as to who he was, what happened and how it all went wrong. Right now, he’s working at a bakery in a small town, making ends meet, and is drawn into the lives of Alvin, his kind-hearted boss who’s obsessed with ghosts and finding the spirit of his departed wife, and Alvin’s daughter Margot, a woman who fled small town life and isn’t happy about being back. It seems like Steve may be about to get his life back on track, when he sees a poster for a visiting carnival, a poster with the face a figure of his old flame Fox on it.
The book is littered with magic tricks (Steve was the child of magicians), with seances, and ghost stories, which I loved. It’s a really beautiful book to read. But part way through, it feels like it changes. Steve rather abruptly leaves town and goes on a tour (I’m not going to tell you why, no spoilers here!). It feels like an odd fit. The book is about magic tricks, ghosts and this lost relationship, but it feels like it doesn’t quite go anywhere with any of these. The magic tricks are more a theme than a plot device, the ghost stories and seances don’t turn up any real ghosts, which feels unsatisfying as it seems to foreshadow something more, and the plot with Fox is beautiful and heartfelt, but when it takes over it feels like a midstream plot change, it makes it a book of two halves.
Does that sound like a major criticism? Yes, probably, but as much as that’s a flaw, I still really liked this book, and I will be reading anything else that Naremore writes. He is a very visual writer, and his characters are interesting and well realised, and he’s really intelligent and thoughtful as a writer. As I was reading this book, I loved how he clearly had thought about and researched the world of seances, how they’re often faked, as well as the world of magic tricks and slight of hand, and even details like how palm reading works. It was really cool. There was no superstition or sensationalism here. And it’s very entertaining because of this, especially as it’s peppered with people recounting ghost stories and local legends as well. It’s a rich book, often funny or romantic, and I have to say that as much as I found that plot change in the last third a bit annoying, it’s a great book in other respects, and well worth a read.
Read It If: you’ve ever been left by someone and never understood why, or if you love the world of magicians. Very entertaining.