Magic Surrounds “Mrs. Houdini”


th (1)This was a historical fiction novel about the love affair of Harry Houdini and his wife, Bess. Their love story also included the evolution of Harry as a magician. Near the end of his life, Houdini was convinced that there was a way for people to communicate with the living after their death. His conviction launched Bess into a quest that had her in séance parlors all around the city hoping Harry would ring a bell to let her know he had crossed over successfully. 

I liked the author’s take on this famous couple, but didn’t necessarily like the execution. The story moved very slowly. One narrative relayed how Bess and Harry met and continued through their marriage. Houdini was such a legendary magician that I expected this retelling would capture his large personality. It didn’t. Despite his passion for magic, I felt that was practically nonexistent here. Harry was also shown to be a man determined to excel as the best magician around. He seemed obsessed with money and fame, but his motivations were not well-developed. I found it frustrating that the novel offered little insight into Houdini and his magic tricks.

Bess came across as a needy and insecure woman. (My least favorite heroines to read about). Their romance was unbelievable to me because it lacked passion and energy. The second narrative of this story took place after Harry’s death as Bess tried to uncover clues she thought Harry left for her. Her journey moved so slowly that this plot stalled because the information was discovered so far apart from each other that the story lost momentum.

I was disappointed with this one.

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