Magic and Magic

The Hawley Book of the Dead: A Novel, by Chrysler Szarian, (Ballantine Books), 352 pages, released 23 September, 2014

The Hawley Book of the Dead is a gripping thriller: the tale of a woman who’s a magician and also is magic. Her particular gift is the ability to disappear instantly, which adds considerably to shows she and her husband, also a magician, perform in Las Vegas.

Reve (short for Revelation, an old family name) finds her life turned upside down when an unknown person puts live bullets in a gun used in performances. In front of an audience she shoots her husband in the chest, killing him almost instantly.

Reve realizes that someone is stalking her, planning more violence against her family, so at the urging of her grandmother she returns to Hawley Five Corners, an abandoned town deep in the New England woods, where her family has roots.

At this point, the book moves into the realm of the supernatural. Reve is learning family history that her grandmother has withheld for years. There are ancestresses accused of witchcraft, magical connections to a sort of fairy folk who went underground after the arrival of humans to their lands, and devices with magical powers.

This is escapist reading, in the good sense of the word. It’s paced quickly and keeps offering new complications. When you need to take a vacation between the pages of a book, The Hawley Book of the Dead will work nicely.

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