Reviews for The Prestige

“… a cat and mouse game of magical illusion, both between Borden and Angier, but also between the reader and the author. The control that Priest has over the pace of his narrative is astounding. Secrets are eked out slowly: as a reader we have no idea of the full picture of the narrative until a few pages from the end; and yet we learn things quickly enough to make the story constantly gripping. Despite being a book of nearly four hundred pages, there is no excess material here. The story has been pared down to its most essential elements, and as such it rattles by with both clarity and brevity. It is complex enough to genuinely puzzle at times, but in essence, is simple enough to be enjoyed by any reader from the age of sixteen upwards. Part historical fiction, part mystery, part science-fiction, this novel will also appeal to virtually any taste too. Its characters vary from glamorous stage assistants to mad Russian scientists, from heavy-set stage hands to ghostly spectres. Already counted among the greats of modern literature, I am glad to say that Priest’s novel doesn’t disappoint. A testimony to authorial craft and to simple things done well, its clever plotting, slow but steady reveals, and deeply eerie atmosphere all combine to make something both alarming and entertaining in equal measure. This is a classic. Find it, buy it, love it.” – InQuire:

“One senses that the appearance of each new Priest novel represents a publishing occasion, a moment when each of us, if we have the slightest concern about the future of fiction, should put our money where our mouths are. The Prestige is Priest’s first novel in five years. It is one of those delicious books in which truth — if there is indeed an absolute truth to the tale — is revealed only gradually, and partially. I read this novel at a sitting: it’s a long novel so it was a long sitting. I cannot loudly enough exhort you to repeat my feat. Here is one of our finest novelists at his peak. Need I say more?” – SFX, England

“Nothing quite prepares you for the sinister complexity and imaginative flair of The Prestige. Few recent novels have felt so vividly, indeed hysterically, imagined. But, in plotting his story’s fantastical triumphs and reverses, Priest has not neglected psychological plausibility. What makes The Prestige affecting as well as gripping are the flashes of remorse both magicians experience as their feud gathers unstoppable momentum. A magnificently eerie novel.” – Sunday Times, London:

“With its echo of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the final scene is magnificent, utterly alarming and genuinely moving. Priest’s mesmeric power is formidable. His characters are eminently dislikable, yet perfectly recognizable and deeply intelligible. He makes you gallop through the book simply to find out what possesses them, and what they will prove capable of. Even so, he requires you to remain alert, and rewards re-reading.” – The Independent, London

“Priest ventures beyond the boundaries of rational belief to illuminate human nature in its most altered states. Images from this poignant, unsettling book linger long in the mind. Just as a magic act should be; filled with haunting marvels.” – Time Out, London

“Christopher Priest’s new novel, The Prestige, must surely be the most conspicuously best-constructed work of fiction to have been published in 1995, in this house of genres. It is the most through-composed, hypnotic, readable novel Priest has yet composed. It is what we, as readers, are here for. A thing of beauty, after all, is a joy forever. The Prestige is a thing of beauty. As an exercise in narrative control, in pretending to propound illusionary matters while never actually, I think, telling an actual untruth, The Prestige is exemplary. It is a lesson to us in the joy of story.” – Interzone, England

“A taut, twisting, prize-winning story of two magicians and their fin-de-siècle rivalry that taints successive generations of their respective families. Electrifying effects and a deft handling of mysteries and their explanations (some remaining tantalizingly incomplete) in an unexpectedly compelling fusion of weird science and legerdemain.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Enthrallingly odd. A carefully calculated period style that is remarkably akin to that of the late Robertson Davies. Priest has brought it off with great imagination and skill.” – Publishers Weekly

“Lushly set in the velvet-cloaked, smoke-and-mirrors world of professional magic in turn-of-century London, this extraordinary novel interweaves the bitter rivalry and strange secrets of two magicians. The story is enormously complex yet like a dazzling magic act itself: a series of perfectly executed illusions that build in suspense and difficulty. The result is a surprise that marvelously satisfies the myriad genres that Priest has successfully managed to merge and transform in this eerie fictional sleight of hand.” – Entertainment Weekly

The Prestige is a brilliantly constructed entertainment, with a plot as simple and intricate as a nest of Chinese boxes … a dizzying magic show of a novel, chock-a-block with all the props of Victorian sensation fiction. Imagine Possession rewritten by Barbara Vine, or Robertson Davies at his most smoothly diabolical.” – Washington Post

“It seems entirely logical that Priest’s latest novel should centre on stage magic and magicians. The particular brand of misdirection that lies at the heart of theatrical conjuring is also a favourite Priest literary ploy. All Priest’s fictions since the early 1980s contain some measure of unreliability, as when we are shocked to find that the narrator of The Affirmation has not been telling the truth to us, or to his own diary, or to himself. We trust narrators too easily. [In The Prestige] the trick is done; before and after, Priest has rolled up both his sleeves; his hands are empty and he fixes you with an honest look. And yet … you realize that it is necessary to read The Prestige again. It’s an extraordinary performance, his best book in years, perhaps his best ever. Highly recommended.” – The New York Review of Science Fiction

“His prose is elegant and exquisitely understated, and leaves one with the very real impression of having witnessed the bravura illusions he describes with such economy. The Prestige is both disturbing and exhilarating — one closes the book shaken, wondering how it was done, and eager to see what the master illusionist will produce for his next trick.” – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

“Priest proves to be a master magician and his words are a heady incantation that persuade, compel, and bedazzle the reader. You are left gasping in wonderment at the magic in which you have so willingly participated and the cunning of this literary legerdemain. There is no way a review can prepare the reader for Priest’s glorious return to the world of imaginative fiction. Any attempt at explanation would only make the reviewer a party in the set-up of this wondrous illusion. The dark complexities of this novel can be savored only by taking a front-row seat with book in hand and beholding its marvels. The Prestige was recently awarded the World Fantasy Convention’s award for Best Novel. It previously won the British James Tait Black Memorial Award and was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. It deserves not only these accolades, but more.” – Omni Online