When I heard about the movie for The Prestige (directed by Christopher "Memento" Nolan, and a cast to die for – David Bowie as Nikolas Telsa?! Yeah!), I thought I'd better run out and get the book and read it right away. Black magic, dastardly deeds, twists and turns, and supernatural sorcery awaited me, promised the many glowing reviews on this award-winning book.
The Prestige starts off favorably enough, but the plot soon wears as thin as Doug Henning's old leotard and leaves about as little to the imagination.
The prestige is a magician's term, and it's the crux of this yawn-inducing yarn, set in the late 1800s, bracketed by a story set in modern day. The tale follows the lifelong (and after-death) feud between a pair of petty prestidigitators and is told in the always-welcome Roshomon fashion. The accounts by author Christopher Priest are first-person, diarist-style, adopting the stilted prose of the period but making no effort toward finding the true voices of men who might actually be writing the memiors.
I can definitely see how it will work as a masterful movie, but the book is so tediously written and so very predictable it very nearly pulled off the trick of making me, the reader, disappear. (But I hung on till the bitter end, only to conclude what I'd already suspected: It's all smoke and mirrors. Here is hoping for a much better film.)
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson