I have never in my life wanted so badly to flip to the back of a book and read the ending. I never do that, but I was majorly tempted here. Luckily, I listened to the audiobook, which prevented me from doing so. Otherwise, I might not have been so strong.
“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.”
Framed by two modern-day characters discussing the story, The Prestige focuses on two feuding magicians around the beginning of the 19th century in London. Alfred Bordon has become famous for a trick in which he transports himself instantly from one location to another. Furious with jealousy (and spurned on by previous fights with Bordon), Rupert Angier vows to find out how Bordon performs the trick.
The audience discovers pretty early what the secret is, but you also quickly find out that you really can’t trust anything written by either magician. The first part of the story comes from a book Bordon wrote, which he never intended to publish, but he still crafts things in a way to only reveal what he wants to reveal. Very much like a stage show. Angier’s story comes from his journal, which he self-edits and abandons at times, making it untrustworthy as well.
A very compelling story, for sure, and I loved the world the characters inhabited. Stage shows, rivaling magicians, seances, sabotage; it’s incredible. Hell, even Nikola Tesla makes an appearance. How can you go wrong with that?