Yes, that’s right. It’s getting a little crazy around here.
I went to the library last week without any idea of what I would check out. I walked through the new releases section and checked out The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas and Shark by Will Self. So, here you go … (but, wait, stick around for the second review, it’s a keeper.)
First up, The Illusionists. Here’s what the Amazon blurb has to say:
The intoxicating new novel of magic and intrigue by “a master storyteller” (Cosmopolitan), for fans of The Night Circus and Water for Elephants
Over the course of three decades of writing, bestselling novelist Rosie Thomas has earned an untold number of awards and the devotion of millions of loyal readers. Her new novel, The Illusionists, set in London in 1870, is a thrilling step forward—a captivating tale of passion and fantasy set in the theater world.
At the start of The Illusionists, we meet Eliza, a young, beautiful woman of limited means. 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 theater company.
Devil’s right-hand man is the improbably-named Carlo Bonomi (a note from me — this is somewhat shocking. A traditionally published book in which they haven’t checked this out. His name isn’t Bonomi, it’s Boldoni.), 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 that 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, which is soon thrown into peril.
It has a lot of those quality reviews from those high-falutin’ sources like Publisher’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan and The Literary Journal and many others. And on Amazon, it’s overall rating is only 3.5 stars even though there are no one star reviews.
So, this was a book I enjoyed. It’s a good story with an intriguing cast of characters, but then I am a fan of stories about the circus and magicians and performers, particularly of the long ago era. So, this was a book that was in my wheelhouse. There’s a good mix of characters and a lot of different story elements that come and go. A murderer. Competition over the girl from several directions. The theater and competition and disruption that goes on there. Marriage. Family. A lot of stuff and the story was good.
Until the end.
And I’ll leave it at that.
I finished The Illusionists last night and this evening picked up Shark. Let me stop here for a moment.
I believe in the one and only fundamental rule of writing — there are no rules other than this. Write a good story. But, still, I expect certain things when I pick up a book. One of the things that is bothering me lately is how many authors don’t bother with quotes around dialogue. But with Shark I have a new complaint. I opened the book and looked at the first page. There was something about it that made me thumb through the book. And this is what I saw: one 466-page long paragraph. Not an indent in the entire thing. Just one long, never-ending paragraph, with a whole bunch of ellipses scattered about on every page. No thanks. I’ll find something else to read.