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

The Magician's Lie

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  11,388 ratings  ·  1,774 reviews
Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician’s Lie, a debut novel in which the country’s most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder --and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man i
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Sourcebooks Landmark
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 The Magician's Lie, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Mariah Nelson Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn, and The Magician's Assistant by Anne Patchett.…moreGeek Love, by Katherine Dunn, and The Magician's Assistant by Anne Patchett.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,388 ratings  ·  1,774 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Magician's Lie
Aly (In Wonderland)
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, adult, netgalley
“But this is life, and when bad things come to us, there isn't much choice. You survive them or you don't.”

I doubt I have ever given five stars to an ARC. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to books, and I do give out a large amount of near-enough or full-on five stars, even if others have rated it one. As long as it keeps me hooked and the characters are enjoyable, I'm happy.

The Magician's Lie is all of that and more.

What I liked:

- Amazing Arden's amazing life story.
- Amazing Arden's t
The Hook - Imagine my confusion while listening to The Magicians on my mp3 player when all of a sudden the transformation from one disc to the next throws me into a different narrator and unfamiliar story. After my initial thoughts of “What the heck?” I realized I had intertwined this and The Magician’s Lie on my player. In those few moments of listening to The Magician’s Lie I knew it would have to be read soon.

The Line - “I might be a prisoner but I didn’t have to be a victim.”

The Sinker - St
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tonight, I will do the impossible.
The impossible is nothing new to me. As I do every night, I will make people believe things that aren't true. I will show them worlds that never existed, events that never happened. I will weave a web of beautiful illusion to ensnare them, a glittering trap that drags them willingly with me into the magical, false, spellbinding world.

The Magician's Lie was a thrilling book about a female illusionist, who is well known for her trick of sawing a man in half. When
Diane S ☔
Oct 01, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 The amazing Arden, caught fleeing into the night after the murder of her supposed husbands murder. Virgil Holt is the lawman who catches her and he has a big problem of his own.

Started off vey slowly and in the beginning it was hard to accept the premise that makes this story work. It is when Arden begins to tell her story to Holt that the novel becomes fascinating, that is if you are a lover of magic and illusions. Loved reading about how these illusions are performed, the planning behind
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this one not quite as intriguing as Girl in Disguise but still easily worth four stars. I especially enjoyed all the historical detail about the towns, the theatres, the way people lived and the trains which carried travelling shows around the country.

The story is presented as a series of tales related over one night by the Amazing Arden, a famous female illusionist. Her sole listener is the local Sheriff who has just taken her in for the suspected murder of her husband. The Sheriff is
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
There were so many other lives I wasn't leading, all because of a handful of choices, mostly made by others.

I couldn't decide on a rating for this book - I enjoyed most of it, although I definitely did not agree with the blurb's statement of Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus. Three quarters of the book was a quick, fun read and I especially enjoyed reading about the tricks of the magic trade. I hated the ending though, it felt rushed and did not fit the rest of the story. I decided on a
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
As Jane Austen said, 'Those who tell their own story, you know, must be listened to with caution." When reading this novel, The Magician's Lie, those words of caution apply. This story, which begins in 1905, is told by a very unreliable narrator… Ada Banks, currently known and lauded as 'The Amazing Arden'.. a famous magician/illusionist. On a summer evening in 1905, 'the Amazing Arden' has just finished a show in Waterloo, Iowa. Arden has kept the audience transfixed, skillfully using scarves a ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was such a pleasant surprise.
It's gothic, dark, sensual and has a touch of a thriller in it. I know that I was more than a little tense at the end.

This story starts in Waterloo, Iowa in the early 1900s. (pure excitement I realize...I can say that because I lived in Iowa for a there.) Our Amazing Arden is an illusionist, and not just any illusionist but a FEMALE illusionist. That matters...because matters. The very early scenes of the book are of her amazing show t
A woman is kidnapped by a lawman in order for him to privately interrogate her for a murder that has just occurred. When she begins her story starting with her childhood he is exasperated, but as she goes through the events of her life he becomes more curious, hopefull and a bit empathetic. Many truths are revieled and he begins to belive that she may actually be innocent. A good mystery with just a hint of magic.
Liz Barnsley
I have mixed feelings about The Magician's Lie. Thought the writing was GREAT, got all caught up in the story then it fell somewhat flat. The ending was just, I don't know. The title suggested some sort of something that never really materialised. The Magician's life story as told to the policeman that arrested her was highly compelling but somewhat unexpected based on the blurb which seems to imply either a kind of "now you see me" type magic twisty story or at least a strange or unusual outcom ...more
Edward Lorn
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This cover really speaks to me. The image... the title... the position of the hand...

It says: "The magician's lie is that, instead of making the doves disappear, she hides them in her butt."


Pardon me, but... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

No offense meant to fans of the book or the author, but the unintentional symbolism of the title and the cover is hilarious. Keep on keeping on, Greer Macallister. I'll give you five stars just for giving me a chuckle.
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A while back, in the comments I made following my review of Timothy Schaffert’s The Swan Gondola, I confessed that I don’t usually go for novels about circuses and fairs and things of that nature. Although I loved that particular book.

Then I read and reviewed Rosie Thomas’ The Illusionists, about a troupe of magicians in Victorian London, and enjoyed that one, too.

Now, when presented with a 3rd recent historical novel about magic and magicians, I had no qualms about picking it up, and I’m very g
Erika Robuck
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Greer Macallister handles the reader with the command and brilliance of a world class ringmaster. THE MAGICIAN’S LIE is a mesmerizing novel of illusion, secrets, and suspense. Bravo!
♥ Sandi ❣
4 stars
Another great book by Greer Macallister. This author is so easy to read. Her words just flow. You actually visualize what she has put on paper.
The story of an Illusionist. One who is being arrested for murder - the murder of her own husband in Waterloo Iowa, right after her performance. Having just that night performed the 'saw a man in half' illusion, Arden instead of the saw, used an ax. Her dead husband found, she is arrested and begins to tell her sordid tale. Police officer Holt ne
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you liked The Night Circus, with the feel of Downton Abbey, you’ll enjoy The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. It has this near seductive narrative from the POV of Arden, the main protagonist as she tells her story to the detective who’s holding her captive until she admits she killed her husband.

There are a great deal of flashbacks that really add to the flavor of the story and gives the reader great insight on who Arden is. She’s illegitimate, and moves with her mother to her relatives’
The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.

The Magician's Lie kept me hooked pretty much from start to finish.
Absolutely spellbinding historical fiction. One of the first female magicians in the country in 1905, the Amazing Arden is accused of murdering her husband. Fleeing the scene of the crime, she is captured by local lawman Virgil Holt. As Holt tries to determine her guilt or innocence, Arden weaves a mesmerizing tale. But what is the truth? Did she do it or not? And will Holt turn her in or let her go? This is a great read for book groups and fans of Water for Elephants.
Miranda Lynn
3.5 stars

Such a promising story full of so much potential...until the last twelve pages ruined the entire thing.

From pretty much the very first page, I was completely hooked by this novel. It was just...entrancing. Stories about illusionists have always been a draw for me, so of course I had to pick this one up as soon as I heard about it. And, for much of my time spent reading it, it did not disappoint.

I was totally captivated by Ada's sweeping tale full of intrigue, mystery, horror, and pain.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it

This book starts off quite dramatic which help pull you in right away.

The Magician and her axe! And is that fake blood?
The stage smoke as it lingers and goes over toward the audience and in the audience that night was the Towns only police officer.

Its the 1800's, we have folk riding on horses to get to their destination. So you need to put your mind back to that era and how people lived.

The name of the arresting officer is Holt.

Some interesting conversation and dialogue go on between Hold and
Lucy Banks
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A quick, thoroughly enjoyable read, delving into a world of magic and illusion.

When I saw that this book was compared to The Night Circus, and hailed as a great read by none other than Oprah Winfrey herself, I felt duty bound to request a copy. I'm a total sucker for anything relating to magic, and this promised to be an entertaining read.

Whilst I didn't feel that it was anything like the Night Circus (not sure who c
I expected more. After the first chapter, I already strongly suspected that I would be disappointed. Water For Elephants, Finding Houdini, Vaclav & Lena, Luminarium. The Magician's Lie does not even deserve to be in the same category. The magic is inventive, the descriptions exciting, costumes creative, performances descriptive enough on paper to appear in the mind's eye. Sadly, the magic played a relatively minor role in the novel. If it had taken center stage, the novel itself would have been ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it liked it
The Magician's Lie tells the story of female illusionist Arden - born Ada Bates - telling her story to police officer Virgil Holt who is interrogating her with regards to a suspicious murder that occurred after one of her shows. Arden describes growing up in a small farming town, working as a servant in a mansion, moving to New York and falling into a magic show. A book that presents Arden's life retrospectively, the story depicts how Arden became the illusionist she is and the two boys-turned-m ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Overall, this book had a lot of shortcomings which stood out too much for me to forgive. Too many holes and hard to believe contents made the good stuff not as good when seen as a whole. As well, potentials were not fully explored – Ada’s gift, Ray, and Virgil.
The concept worked partially, in that I found Ada/ Arden’s story interesting but the set up to get to her back story was awkward and didn’t make sense to me. Ada gets arrested by a small town cop, Virgil, accuse of her husband’s murder,
Charlie Lovett
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I get to meet authors. Sometimes their books sound interesting. And when I'm really lucky I hit the trifecta—the book actually is interesting. I'm not reviewing The Magician's Lie because Greer Macallister is a nice person (though she certainly is) or because it's a great premise (though that is undeniable). The fact is it's a riveting story beautifully told. I read it in just a couple of days, which is fast for me, because I couldn't put it down. The narrative structure that the autho ...more
Catherine McKenzie
Beautiful imagery and a fast-paced story.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novel. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Julia Whelan and Nick Podehl (highly recommended). They did a wonderful job. One of the best things about this book is that it features The Biltmore (one of my favorite places on Earth). The storyline moved really fast...never lingering in one place. The main character, Ada Bates, was inspiring to me. Although she endured continual setbacks in her life, she had a determined spirit that would not give in. I can't think ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
In "The Magician's Lies," Arden is a illusionist who is truly a woman in a man's world. This book takes place before there were many female entertainers so she draws an audience merely for being a woman. She becomes very famous because her tricks are good. One night it appears that she killed her husband on stage during one of her illusions, Arden becomes a wanted woman. It'll be up to one man to determine whether or not Arden really committed the murder or was it just another illusion. There se ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5...very nearly a 4. I nearly gave up on this but it was definitely worth sticking with - well plotted and unpredictable, and by the end I was swept up in the magical and mystery elements. I really enjoyed the back story tale, but the present day plot of Arden (the magician) and the police officer (Holt) seemed to drift and wasn't nearly as well done. I understand why the author chose to construct the narrative in the way she did, but I felt the time spent between Holt and Arden was too clunky ...more

I have never read a magical story involving a magician. I loved how the story combined magic and a murder. The point that I liked here is that in most cases an illusionist is a man and I like the way this subject was turned around on its heel to a woman illusionist. This is the life of the most famous female illusionist in the world. Now this is the time which Arden has decided to leave it all behind. This is the life she will end. Arden every night, will make people believe things that aren’t t
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic read this was! Macallister writes a beautiful story of a female illusionist, something that was rare and provocative during the turn of the century, in this historical fiction debut. The story shows the reader things are not always as they seem even when it comes to the illusions we create in our own lives.

When a man is killed during her jaw-dropping act of sawing a man in half, The Amazing Arden is arrested and accused of the murder. The thing is, Arden has a story to tell abo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: The Magician's Lie / Greer Macallister. 4 stars 2 7 Nov 01, 2019 10:27PM  
Gaithersburg Book...: 2015 Author Greer MacAllister on You Tube 1 2 Feb 10, 2017 01:06PM  
52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2015.41: The Magician's Lie 4 46 Jan 29, 2016 05:34AM  
So. . . what was the lie? (spoiler) 4 77 Sep 29, 2015 12:04PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 5 Mar 12, 2015 09:10AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • No Witness But the Moon
  • The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
  • Forced Perspectives
  • The Way of Love (Willamette Brides, #2)
  • Come to the Edge
  • The Stills (Kinship #3)
  • Gino's Veg Italia!: 100 quick and easy vegetarian recipes
  • Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden
  • Grilled Cheese Kitchen: Bread + Cheese + Everything in Between
  • Paleo Desserts: 125 Delicious Everyday Favorites, Gluten- and Grain-Free
  • Means Of Escape: A War Correspondent's Memoir of Life and Death in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Vietnam
  • Iconic Advantage®: Don't Chase the New, Innovate the Old
  • Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out
  • The Lost Manuscript
  • The Kaiser's Web (Cotton Malone, #16)
  • Ours: The Promises Between Us
  • Anna, Banana, and the Magic Show Mix-Up  (Anna, Banana #8)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister earned her MFA in creative writing from American University. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN'S LIE was a USA Today bestseller, an Indie Next pick, and a Target Book Club selection. Her novels GIRL IN DISGUISE (“a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read” - Booklist) and WOMAN 99 (“a nail biter that makes you want to stand up and cheer” - Kate Quinn) were inspired ...more

Related Articles

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
65 likes · 20 comments
“Life is always better than death. Always. No exceptions.” 7 likes
“You want to set me free? Do it. You want to turn me in? You can do that too. You're the only one with the choice. And that bullet in your back doesn't mean you've got any less choice than you ever did. Live free of fear if you want to. We all carry something inside us that could kill us; yours just has a name. You want to change your life? Change it. You have no less of a right to be happy than the rest of us.” 6 likes
More quotes…