Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Magic” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,107 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Starting out as a boy in the Catskills, Corky develops into a brilliant and famous magician whose long-hidden secret and expert skills attract dark forces intent on destroying him.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 1976 by Dell
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Magic, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Magic

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
3.5 stars!

This novel was a lot of fun. There's an evil vent dummy, (just look at that face on the cover!), and a somewhat wishy-washy magician. Put them together and what have you got? A total blast!

This book seems a little tame compared to the horror that abounds today, but back in the 70's when it was written, I'm sure it was a shocker. And perhaps because I was a criminal profile junkie back in the day, the origins of the psychological issues in this story didn't quite ring true for me. But g
Thomas Strömquist
Better than a third of this book had me bewildered about what was going on - there was a story there, albeit 'differently' told - but I could not see where it was going. It was going into a twist, and then it really took off. Much more coherent storytelling (but not without quite a few unorthodox takes) in the second half and by then the chill factor has really set in. Tops off with a plausible and good ending. I really liked this sometimes oddly told (not always linear time, thoughts merge into ...more

Description: Starting out as a boy in the Catskills, Corky develops into a brilliant and famous magician whose long-hidden secret and expert skills attract dark forces intent on destroying him

Watch here

Joanne Harris
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an old favourite of mine; perhaps a little dated now, but no more than, say, CARRIE (and I think that adds to its noir appeal). Sparse, punchy and peopled with the kind of characters that transfer naturally to the screen, it's a terrific piece of proto-screenwriting and a masterclass in the art of the unreliable narrator. It's also a stonking illustration of the artist's condition; his relationship with his audience; his need to be loved; his passion; that sense of weird duality all arti ...more
Tony Gangi
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Just a fabulous read. A difficult to find book, but well worth the effort. Goldman shows why he's a master storyteller. The book--while exceedingly similar to the film since Goldman translated it for the screen--offers a few new insights into the characters of Corky and Fats, and even offers up to the reader the possibility that one of the two of those characters was sane. Which one it was is anyone's guess. Was it Fats? Was it Corky? This unusual slant on the book is no where to be found in the ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Honestly I couldn't finish this book...Not because it wasn't an excellent story but because I saw the movie all those years ago and felt it was a waste of time to finish reading. Of course it was well written and worth the time I spent on it. I read it as a book of the month selection from one of the groups I belong to here on Goodreads.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-read
Review to come!
Eric Bauman
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I think William Goldman is a genius of a writer for the screen. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Misery”, “The Princess Bride” and others are wonderful movies, due in large part to the man who wrote the screenplays. But I had never read him in book form (not even “The Princess Bride”—and don’t give me that look!).

But probably my favorite movie of his is the 1978 film, “Magic.” "Magic" is one of those really great movies that nobody knows about, starring Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret and Bu
Ben Loory
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it
well, goldman's not much of a stylist, but he sure knows how to tell a story... granted, it's a pretty goofy story much of the time, and feels really dated and robert zemeckis-y, but as soon as that psychotic ventriloquist's dummy starts talking, the flaws are quickly forgotten as the whole book becomes seriously and legitimately disturbing, way more so than the phrase "psychotic ventriloquist's dummy" might lead one to expect.
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that reveals something about 100 pages in that makes you want to flip back to the beginning in order to reread everything with that new information in mind. Which makes it a great read, but extremely hard to review without spoiling that fun for someone else. So bear with me!

I picked up Magic (and Marathon Man, which I'll be reviewing later this week) after listening to As You Wish, in which Cary Elwes mentions William Goldman's other works. I've only ever read The Prin
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2000, horror, age-adult
My reading selection was slim pickin's during my semester in Rome, and the version of this book I read had a creepy picture of a ventriloquist's dummy on the cover and a fairly cheesy writeup on the back, which my friend Chris read aloud until I was pretty much on the floor laughing. I think both of us read this book. It wasn't half bad, but Wow! The movie IS bad. Even Anthony Hopkins couldn't save that one. The climax is killer.
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very disturbing, in a great way. I remember when it dawned on me just who Corky was talking to -- I thought he was his agent. Creeps galore!

I also recall putting a real knife from the kitchen on top of the knife on the cover of Sharon's copy (we'd been using it to strip speaker wire as we set up her stereo). That creeped her out a bit *too* much.
Rebecca McNutt
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: horror fans
Shelves: misc-horror
Corky is a ventriloquist/magician about to hit it big. Real big. But he's got a problem. He's completely and totally insane; he's got a split personality that has manifested itself in his ventriloquist dummy, Fats. Corky thinks Fats is alive, giving him advice, telling him what to do, making him do terrible things. Corky's descent into madness is pretty spooky and well-written. The ancillary characters are great, but Fats steals the show.
The film version of this is really excellent. It was made
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a short but thrilling novel because, in the middle, you are given information that makes you have to re-think the first half of the book.
Lois Duncan
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the scariest books I've ever read.
I picked this up at a library sale, thinking it was related to the '70s movie (which I haven't seen) about a ventriloquist dummy run amok, and was surprised that the dummy doesn't show up in the book till the end of act I. (I don't know, I guess I just figured the dummy would be front-and-center right off the bat.)

Anyway, it is the basis for the Richard Attenborough movie with Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret and Burgess Meredith, which performed modestly at the box office and didn't make much of a
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This passed a few days of travelling, keeping me company over disappointing hotel breakfasts. I doubt I'll remember it in a few months. The dialogue is snappy but the story is disjointed and not scary.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good yarn.
Oscar Torrado
Además de su carrera como escritor, el autor William Goldman también ha hecho su aporte al mundo cinematográfico, gracias a él tuvimos la excelente adaptación de Misery, de la cual se hizo a cargo escribiendo su guión convirtiéndola en una de las mejores adaptaciones de un libro de Stephen King, pero poco a nada sabia de su carrera como novelista hasta que me topé de casualidad con Magic.

Magic cuenta la historia de Corky Withers, un mago profesional al que después de una vida bastante dura encue
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only the third William Goldman book I've read, but it's entertaining, gripping, and satisfying. A lovely, traditional thriller that reminds me a lot of the Ira Levin thrillers I've read. Magic, too, relies heavily on literary tricks that would not necessarily be possible in other media.

The story, of a shy loner magician, and his changing personality, is a very elegant piece of writing, even if you dislike the gimmicks. The writing style is direct and matter-of-fact, but the way people speak len
Andre Dumas
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A few years ago I watched 'Magic' the film starring a young(er) Anthony Hopkins and was whisked away to the magical and evil land of Corky and Fats. Fast forward to last week when I was perusing the library stacks looking for William Goldman's 'The Princess Bride' and instead found about 3 books that I had seen the movies of and loved. William Goldman therefore may just be my new hero.

I admit some of the 'magic' was taken away just by already having seen the film. There's a great reveal halfway
Sally Bisbee
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Magic tells the story of Charles "Corky" Withers, a man that has just failed his first attempt at professional magic. His mentor says that he needs to have a better show business personality. A year later Corky comes back as a ventriloquist with a foul-mouthed dummy named Fats -- I'm not saying anymore. This was a GREAT book and a terrifying movie. (Marathon Man, Brothers, Control). Goldman is 5-star all the way.

Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2001
My brother's theory about Goldman is that in all of his books, the protagonist is really good at one thing. In this one, its magic, and later on, ventriloquism, which eventually drives him mad, and totally ruins his chances with this babe.
Nov 04, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scary and disturbing. Not my type of book but very well written.
Deanna Watson
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had no idea the Anthony Hopkins flick was based on a novel - the screenplay was written by Goldman, so the film parallels the novel nicely. A good, quick, creepy read!
Apr 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Good psychological thriller.
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Again, a much better book than a movie; gimme a break--Ann Margaret? Anyway, it was a good read from a master wordsmith--his earlier books are all worth reading.
Alan Novich
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Goldman is a wonderful author. Look him up and Ira Levin as well. Magic was a movie, but the book is so much better, and frightening.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Book of Common Dread (Vincent DeVilbiss, #1)
  • Hobgoblin
  • Thor
  • All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By
  • Cinema of Shadows (Harmony, Indiana, #2)
  • Blood Riders
  • Open Season
  • City Under the Moon
  • Brain Storm
  • The Marriage of Meggotta
  • The Search for Joseph Tully
  • Gothic Sports: Volume 2
  • Mercurius: The Marriage of Heaven and Earth
  • The Mephisto Waltz
  • Offline
  • Drummer Boy (Sheriff Frank Littlefield, #2)
  • Re: Play, Volume 1
  • Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales, and Stories
Goldman grew up in a Jewish family in Highland Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and obtained a BA degree at Oberlin College in 1952 and an MA degree at Columbia University in 1956.His brother was the late James Goldman, author and playwright.

William Goldman had published five novels and had three plays produced on Broadway before he began to write screenplays. Several of his novels he later used
More about William Goldman...

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Wow, brains as well as boobs.” 3 likes
More quotes…