The Prestige tells the tale of a feud between two 19th Century stage magicians, and the secrets they jealously guard that end up dominating their lives. Each magician has an ingenious secret method of performing an illusion - one of these is explained away by normal means, the other is revealed to be pure science fiction. The novel is told predominantly through the selected diary entries of the two main protagonists - plus a very spooky framing sequence concerning the magicians modern day relatives - and while this does mean there is some repetition of material Priest skilfully shows how the same situation is seen differently by the two central characters, with even the reasons behind what sets off the initial conflict unknown by the other.
In terms of rationality the science fiction element isn't always wholly convincing - particularly the scientist who creates a device which would not only revolutionise society but lead to great personal wealth (and indeed does lead to great wealth for the magician he creates it for) inexplicitly being written out of the tale with an unconvincing case of illogical bankruptcy - but it does lead to a magnificently eerie climax as the revelations behind the 'prestiges' are finally revealed.
The Prestige contains some haunting images, and Priest creates two incredibly vivid lead characters while expertly examining the dangerous nature of secrets and obsession. A unique mixture of science fiction and mystery, this is a beguiling and highly original novel.