Friday, December 08, 2006

Christopher Priest: The Prestige

As you all may know, this novel has recently been filmed. We've had it for a while - it's one of those books that just Appear, courtesy of mr Bani, who then proceeds to walk around muttering about all the books we have and how we need to clear the clutter. I swear, for every book I buy he buys fifteen. I decided to read it since my library stash was depleted, even though I didn't really think it would be my Thing. I'm not sure why... I didn't think the cover looked that appealing, and the storyline, about two rival magicians who feud over a trick... I dunno, it wasn't buzzing me. Turns out I was slightly mislead by having seen film trailers.

See, I thought this was a relatively straightforward, linear tale of exactly that, rival magicians, whose feud has impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And possibly a conflict over a girl. Actually, the novel has a distinctly Edgar Allan Poe-ish theme - something that took me so by surprise that I didn't really want to see it. I thought it would be all about illusion and sleight-of-hand, i.e. that the amazing tricks worked would be exposed as illusions. However, there is mysterious machinery and scantily descriped nearly-science with devastating effects - but they are real, not illusion. I've enjoyed the crime fiction I've read with magic themes - Jeffrey Deaver's The Vanished Man and Carol O'Connell's Shell Game - and this did lead me to expact more dénouement (my mot de jour, it seems)... but it was not to be. So I was very disappointed about half-way through, but perhaps unfairly so, I admit it. Anyway, the film trailers point to a more linear, traditional story, so I was taken aback. It seems like some of this Poe-ish feel might well be in the film aswell though, but I haven't read spoilers - yet.

It's not a bad book at all, but the very end is a severe letdown. It goes nowhere, and we the readers are left hanging completely.

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