“I started off really liking the book, not so much by the time I finished it.”Kingbird wrote this review Sunday, October 27, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I really don't know what to say about this novel, but it is strange. I got lost about 3/4 of the way through and floundered to finish it!”Mimosa wrote this review Wednesday, July 3, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Not without its flaws, this novel still engages the reader. Told from multiple viewpoints, the story of Henry Walker is mysterious. What happened to his sister? Did he really learn magic from the Devil? Etc. Ultimately, the real story of Henry is revealed; leaving this reader somewhat disturbed.
“This book, this wonderfully enthralling tale, could be said to be Magic Realism. It does have overtones of the works of Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Haruki Murakami. But I am still uncertain to the validity of such an expression. It could be classified as 'Southern Gothic' but I think that that term is too narrow for such a broad ranging novel as this. I think a book as fantastical as this is a fantasy and like all good such works, Homer for example, there are echoes of humanity revealed in ways only great works can depict. Make no mistake this is a great book. Within the story we meet the devil then a cast of misfits from the circus who, upon the protagonist’s disappearance, reveal his character bit by bit.
The authors pacing is remarkable. He steers us by the use of intermittent short chapters, if chapters they are, that are short, sharp and that thrust the story forward at high velocity. These are followed by a series of longer ones that profile the characters personalities so that we are given a small world peopled by the odd; curiosities that sit outside our existence and yet by this trick expose what it is to be human.
There are shades of colour used that highlight both light and dark.
The 'sting in the tail' is, as it shoul be, in the closing pages when all that has been foggy becomes crystal clear.
This book is a 'must read.'”
“New Book, June 2012”Whitaker Library wrote this review Tuesday, June 19, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“To say this is the tale of the Negro Magician, Henry Walker and his life filled with loss and tragedy would be to tell only a part of the story. Equally important are his sad, pathetic friends in the Carnival world of freaks from whom we learn what is known about him. Each acquaintance relates their own often contradictory version of Henry's life story from which we build a picture, albeit an incomplete one. Racism in post-depression USA is handled with sensitivity.
There is a pact with the Devil, the magic and mystery of the deep south and an exploration of the themes of love and loss, of reality and illusion. Daniel Wallace is a master story teller. He writes with a deceptive economy of words and a beautiful simplicity. His characters are underdogs and he details their plight with loving care.
Through the fragmented narrative we learn not only the sad story of Henry Walker, from boyhood to his violent death but also about the lives he touched and the times he lived in. Henry loses his mother, his father, his home, and over the years various friends, guardians, managers and benefactors. The greatest loss is that of his ten year old sister Hannah who vanished in a deal with the devil, a deal which supposedly gave Henry his magic powers.
All is never quite what it seems and in the end it takes the intervention of a Private Eye to unravel the threads and shed a little more light on the truth. The novel opens with a mysterious letter from 'James' to a family member apologising for his departure and for his role, indirectly, in Henry's demise. By the end of the tale it is clear that 'James' is James Callaghan the real name of the mythical Mr. Sebastian and the only living family member must be Henry's sister Hannah.
Some threads are tied while others are a loose knot open to interpretation. Ultimately we have been taken on a spellbinding journey into life and heartbreaking loss.”
“Haunting, sad story. Wallace seems fascinated with the blurry lines between truth and lies. ”Blue Cypress Books wrote this review Monday, August 15, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Wow. Uh, unlike The Life of Pi, this book’s awfulness did not have a payoff at the end that made it all okay. It was really just racist drivel. I don’t believe the author would understand that criticism, which makes it worse in a way. It was the literary equivalent of that day Tyra Banks dressed in a fat suit and claimed to understand obesity.”Beatnik Mary wrote this review Sunday, August 14, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Disappointing ending. The last few chapters were not satisfying and I would have put it down had I known I wouldn't get a payoff in the end. I did enjoy the many characters of the circus but I'd like to have known them better. ”jcrosby wrote this review Sunday, July 24, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Life sucks and then you die. And a bunch of stuff evoking spirituaility and fantasy worlds. The end did not surprise me so much. I was hoping for something more fullfilling for the characters. But up until the end it was an entertaining read, I guess.”roman g wrote this review Sunday, July 25, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No