I know, because I was lucky enough to catch a sneak preview!
There is something fascinating about magic tricks and conjuring.
Yes, yes, we know that it is sleight of hand and misdirection and we’re way too scientific and intelligent to fall for myth and magic but still, we’re fascinated.
In the words of The X-Files’ Fox Mulder, we want to believe. The Victorians certainly did.
The 19th century was filled with social and technological advances. Every modern convenience we have today, we owe in some way to the Victorians. But like a counterweight on a pendulum, the Victorians were also fascinated by magic, divination and the occult. That in itself is a intriguing contradiction and one we experience today.
Stage magic gives us the opportunity to experience wonder and delight – something which adults find in short supply, having exhausted a lot of natural wonder in childhood. It gives us permission to be surprised.
In the case of those inventive Victorians, magic tricks became more and more elaborate with inventions of the age – image projection and electricity, for instance. But there is no evidence the scientist Nikolai Tesla ever invented a replication machine as depicted in the fabulously complex and intriguing 2006 Christopher Nolan film, The Prestige in which Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play 19th century magicians in a deadly game of one-upmanship.
Many of the tricks the Victorians found fascinating, still entertain us today. And who can resist spoilers? They were equally fond of revealing the mechanics of the trick as revelling in the illusion itself.
It’s one of the reasons why magic is a central element to The Thief of Hearts and combined with the magic of Christmas, and the popularity of detective stories, a new genre of fiction at the time, bringing all of those elements together was irresistible.
Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas.
To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.
While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke.
He's the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.
As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.
Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.
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