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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The usual engrossing tale from Rosie Thomas
Rosie Thomas has delivered yet again, with a typically well-rersearched and convincing tale. Her heroine Eliza is a bold and independent creature and her milieu is a London which is changing fast; this is depicted with Rosie's usual skill and panache. Don't be put off by those who complain that this isn't "The Kashmir Shawl"; of course it's not. Thomas is always...
Published 6 months ago by Wrexhamfan

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smoke and Mirrors
Rosie Thomas's latest novel takes us back to Victorian London where we are introduced to Hector Crumhall, better known as Devil Wix, a tall and darkly handsome man, fascinated with the art of illusion and who is determined to one day own his own theatre. When he meets Carlo Boldoni, a dwarf who also happens to be a very talented magician, the two pair up and form their...
Published 7 months ago by Susie B


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The usual engrossing tale from Rosie Thomas, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Illusionists (Hardcover)
Rosie Thomas has delivered yet again, with a typically well-rersearched and convincing tale. Her heroine Eliza is a bold and independent creature and her milieu is a London which is changing fast; this is depicted with Rosie's usual skill and panache. Don't be put off by those who complain that this isn't "The Kashmir Shawl"; of course it's not. Thomas is always doing something different and her readers always get the rewards.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smoke and Mirrors, 1 Mar 2014
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Illusionists (Hardcover)
Rosie Thomas's latest novel takes us back to Victorian London where we are introduced to Hector Crumhall, better known as Devil Wix, a tall and darkly handsome man, fascinated with the art of illusion and who is determined to one day own his own theatre. When he meets Carlo Boldoni, a dwarf who also happens to be a very talented magician, the two pair up and form their own illusion act which appears at a rundown theatre named the Palmyra. At the Palmyra, Devil meets Heinrich Bayer, a strange character who makes automatons (one of which, Lucie, he treats as if she is a real woman) and Heinrich, Devil and Carlo become friends of sorts. Added to this trio, we meet Jasper Button, an artist who works at a wax museum and who is party to a tragic secret from Devil's past and, through Jasper, we meet the beautiful Eliza Dunlop. Eliza, an independent young woman who works as a life model at a nearby art school and who yearns to be on the stage, is impressed by Devil's and Carlo's flamboyant illusion act and before long the strong attraction between her and Devil becomes obvious to those around them. However, Devil is not the only man who is interested in Eliza: there is Jasper, who is in love with her; there is Carlo, who becomes devoted to Eliza when she nurses him back to health after an almost fatal illness, and there is the enigmatic Heinrich, whose adoration turns into something rather strange and sinister - but I shall leave the rest of this tale for prospective readers to discover...

Filled with some unusual and rather bizarre characters and events, Rosie Thomas's atmospheric story takes us on a journey into the dark alleyways, the squalid lodging houses and the rowdy public houses of Victorian London and right into the seductive, but perilous world of the shady Palmyra Theatre. A friend lent me this book as some light relief from a rather heavy title I have started reading and, although I have read and enjoyed some of this author's books before, I was a little unsure about this one, especially when I learnt the hero was a tall, dark, handsome magician called Devil. However, although not on a par with some of Rosie Thomas's previous novels, and I have to admit to finding parts of this book rather melodramatic, other parts were good fun and I found myself drawn into this fast-moving story of theatrical exploits, and the almost five hundred pages flew past quickly and effortlessly. This is not a literary novel (and not meant to be one) but if you allow yourself to enter into the spirit of the story, this could work well as an undemanding and entertaining escapist read for you.

3 Stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starts Slowly But Improves, 27 July 2014
This review is from: The Illusionists (Paperback)
I have read a couple of other Rosie Thomas books - The Kashmir Shawl and Iris & Ruby - so was looking forward to a similar book. In this sense, this book was rather disappointing.
This book is set in 1870s Victorian London. We meet a group of odd individuals who come together to form a fellowship and run their own variety theatre, mainly performing illusions. We follow the characters a small amount before they meet but the bulk of the book is concerning their time at the Palmyra Theatre.
This book was very slow to get going and at one point I was very tempted to give up. However, the book did pick up in the second half but at no point was I gripped to the extent of being unable to put the book down. This was very disappointing in relation to her previous books which I have read as they were gripping from start to finish.
This book is set entirely in 1870s London. The author is excellent at description and the whole atmosphere does come alive in this book. The dark alleys, the creepy theatre when it is empty, the smell and the squalor of the lodging houses. The author sets the scene very well, it is just a shame that the plot was not more gripping.
There are several main characters in this book - Devil Wix who is haunted by an accident in his past, Eliza a very modern woman, Heinrich the brilliant automaton inventor who looses the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy and Carlo, the dwarf. The love/hate relationship between Carlo and Devil is excellent whereby both envies and dislikes the other but at the same time cannot live without them.
There is a wonderful event close to the end of this book which did have me gripped. There are one or two other events which could have been excellent and really kept me gripped to the story but somehow the author failed to capitaise on them.
I enjoyed this book but it did lack something and certainly isn't of the standard of previous books by this author. If you have loved other books by Rosie Thomas then may I suggest you tread warily with this book as it isn't the same style nor, in my opinion, the same standard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magical, atmospheric and gothic tale of a group of unique and often disturbed individuals, 16 April 2014
This review is from: The Illusionists (Hardcover)
Bestselling author of the phenomenally successful The Kashmir Shawl is back with her latest literary installment and this time she’s kept it local.

Enter the dirty and depraved streets of London in 1870 and meet Eliza, beautiful, fiercely independent and defying convention. Through her work, as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and unashamedly stubborn Devil, a born showman whose dream is to own his own theatre. Third in our unlikely trio is Carlo Bonomi, a hot-tempered dwarf with a ridiculous talent for contortion and illusion. Strong personalities mean emotions run high with only Eliza on hand to balance the uneasy peace. Mild-mannered artist Jasper Button and socially awkward Heinrich Bayer complete our unexpected family. Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked and as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world that her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life.

The novel is rooted in love, first and foremost that of the theatre, but also love of our leading lady Eliza. She has a beautiful spirit and sense of character and I could certainly identify with her conflicting emotions and her desire not to be dominated by the man she loves, she wants to be an equal. The disruptions between the motley crew of characters stem indirectly from her as the competition between her admirers rages through the pages – although one should note that it’s an unfair battle as she is fated from day one to be with one man in particular.

With that in mind, prepare to fall in love yourself. Devil Wix embodies the elusive, mysterious and artistic man who makes women flutter their eyelashes and fall at his feet – plus he’s got a dark side and a past shrouded in shadows. If I were to cast him in the cinematic adaptation (as I am sure one will follow swiftly) I would cast Ben Whishaw – sorry Mr Depp you’re a bit old for this one!

His second in command Carlo was a poignant character. We discover him drowning in sadness (and beer) after losing his family and fighting a bitter battle against society’s reaction to his stature. Following his descent into anger and eventually an all-consuming jealousy you cannot help but become emotionally entangled, although at times his attitudes were a tad extreme.

Strangely enough, the individual that stood out for me was the eerie individual of Heinrich Bayer, a creator of automatons (a type of robot) who becomes unhealthy attached to his creation Lucy. His act is to dance with Lucy every night at the theatre something which is initially beautiful but quickly becomes disturbing especially when he gives her a ‘voice’, in fact Eliza’s voice. It’s his storyline that provides a unique and extremely dark plot-line that ensures the story has edge and continued momentum alongside the growth of the theatre.

This is a magical, atmospheric and gothic tale of a group of unique and often disturbed individuals who are brought together by the theatre and develop into an inextricably linked family.

Rating: 9 out of 10 – fans of The Night Circus will love this (as will everyone with a touch of imagination)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What has happened?, 20 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Illusionists (Kindle Edition)
I can't believe this is the same author as I have loved in previous books. The Kashmir shawl for instance. I think they must have been from much earlier days. What a disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Illusionists (Kindle Edition)
I usually enjoy Rosie Thomas's books but I found this one difficult to get into and it remains on my kindle unfinished.
I will try with it again at a later date.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars None, 18 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Illusionists (Kindle Edition)
This is not a run of the mill Rosie Thomas. it is far more complex and intriguing with an adroitly handled period setting. The characters and events are believable and involving so that you really care what happns to them. I can't help thinking of this as a TV series waiting to happen. I loved it and can not wait for more in the same vein.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I love Rosie Thomas`s books and have read most of them, 15 July 2014
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I love Rosie Thomas`s books and have read most of them. However, I couldn`t get into this one at all and gave up. Perhaps it gets better as it goes along. Not up to her usual standard, unfortunately.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 20 Jun 2014
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Mjp Mrs Ma Morrow "Desert Rat" (Pinner, Middlesex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Illusionists (Kindle Edition)
I love Rosie Thomas as an author, having first read 'The Kashmir Shawl' and worked my way through many of her books since, but I found this book very unsatisfying. It doesn't feel like a complete story, rather a set of novellas, brought together around a set of characters and a playhouse. I couldn't empathise with anybody as they didn't feel like real characters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Illusionists, 12 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Illusionists (Kindle Edition)
Another Kindle book ordered before publication so unable to read a sample prior to buying. Rosie Thomas is one of my favourite authors but 1800's historical novels are sadly not, so, for me, a waste of money. Very "Jack RIpperish" beginning!
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The Illusionists
The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas
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