Christopher Priest,
The Prestige
(Tor, 1997; 2006)

From the moment an angry Alfred Borden violently interrupts a phony seance conducted by Rupert Angier, the two magicians begin a rivalry that will last the rest of their lives and reverberate through history to involve their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

Newspaper reporter Andrew Westley, adopted as a small child, has always felt a mysterious connection linking him to a missing twin brother. His birth records clearly show him to have been an only child, but the strength of the link cannot be denied. Due to the circumstances surrounding his adoption -- his father abandoned him at a very young age -- he has very little interest in his birth family. It is not until Kate Angier invites him to her family's ancestral home that he becomes aware of the old rivalry.

The Prestige is a strange book. The gripping story is related through the first-person narration of Andrew Westley and Kate Angier, as well as the diaries of their respective great-grandfathers, Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier. It is not difficult to keep the narrators separate, something that many authors with alternating narrators do not manage. The story seems like a nice historical novel with just a touch of mystery at the beginning, but as it progresses, and the rivalry between Borden and Angier heats up, it takes a dark turn, with an ending not likely to be forgotten.

Don't pass up the book because you've seen the recent movie. While the movie is gorgeous and a reasonably good adaptation, it's just that: an adaptation. There are, as with all adaptations, changes to the storyline. Whether good or bad, I leave to the reader/viewer to determine.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Laurie Thayer

7 July 2007

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