darkkat, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by darkkat)
An essential read in the first decade of the the 21st century. An elegant novel that brought the early years of the 20th century alive with magic in both subject, content, and style. A book about magic that in fact is magic.
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caladonialove, January 10, 2007 (view all comments by caladonialove)
If you like historical fiction, you'll enjoy this book. The prose is nicely-done, and the story is worthwhile. Maybe the most engaging thing about the novel is the way the reader is invited behind the scenes, both of the magic shows and the main character's psyche.
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by Adrienne Miller, Esquire,
"While Carter Beats the Devil is not a brilliantly written book, it does accomplish something rare (and something few contemporary novelists even try): It creates its own world. Indeed, Gold's material is utterly irresistible — flappers, bootleggers, Secret Service goons, beautiful magician's assistants, icky mobsters — and it's impossible not to be engrossed." (read the entire Esquire review)
by The New York Times,
"An enormously assured first novel."
by Gavin Quinn, Booklist (starred review),
"Like the best magicians, Gold puts on an amazing show, distracting his readers at critical moments and delighting them when surprises are revealed. A brilliant first novel from a promising new author."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"[T]oo often Gold lets his research become his tale...storytelling and character development grind to a halt under the weight of all that imparted knowledge....A wildly ambitious performance from a first-novelist who has all the tricks in his bag — but just doesn't know how to use them yet."
by Publishers Weekly,
"[T]horoughly entertaining...a fanciful pastiche of history, fantasy and romance....As it unfolds as both mystery and historical romance, readers, long before the denouement, will be torn between the pull of the suspense and wanting the epic to go on forever."
by Washington Post Book World,
"Serves up sparkling vignettes...in droves, and in the end Glen David Gold makes good on the promise of his title."
by Gregory Harris, BookPage,
"[A] marvelous work that portrays a performer and an era with a sense of wonder and mystery....An absorbing first novel, Carter Beats the Devil is a wondrous work. From its bravura beginning to its riveting climax, Gold's novel defies the reader to perform the trick of putting the book down."
by Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle,
"[A] walloping, exuberant read...[that] deserves to pivot its author...to some sort of fame....Like Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which mined similar territory, Carter Beats the Devil is a single-read wonder, closer in tone to an intellectualized Indiana Jones adventure, but far more satisfying."
by Karen G. Anderson, January Magazine,
"[A]s fascinating — and also as frustrating — as a conjurer's act....[T]here's not much of substance for the reader to start with....Gold redeems himself in the subsequent chapters of this often elegantly written book. He spins a fascinating story....Genuine interest and concern for the compelling Carter kept me turning the pages, even when my patience with the convoluted plot flagged....At the heart of this elaborate literary performance, the magic is there."
by Donna Scanlon, Rambles,
"[R]emarkable...by turns tender, suspenseful and thoughtful, at once sprawling and taut....Gold has a gift for drawing the reader so deeply into the world he both documents and creates that the twists and turns of the plot are a complete surprise."
by John Hartl, The Seattle Times,
"[S]howy, suspenseful, dazzlingly theatrical....[T]he plot strands that are introduced at midpoint lead directly to an Act 3 that's so tense and breathless that even the unsurprising nature of Harding's big secret, finally revealed, can't take the kick out of Carter's grandest theatrical event. This is the magic show of one's dreams, described by Gold in language that will surely enthrall even the most casual reader."
by Peter Preston, The Guardian (U.K.),
"Here is a book — a first novel, no less — to blow you away. It seeks to stun and amaze and deceive and, always, to entertain; and it seldom misses a trick....Sometimes Gold seems to have wandered too far from any possible relevance, to be simply enjoying himself. But it's impossible, at the end, to carp. This is the most exuberant stew of a novel: strange, tasty, addictive."
by Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor,
"[D]elightful....Gold weaves the rich history of this period through his own stagecraft, creating a novel worthy of the hype that announced those great Vaudeville magicians....In a book full of conjurers, Gold emerges as the best magician of all, pulling surprises out of his hat throughout this wildly entertaining story, which captures America in a moment of change and wonder."
by Elle Magazine,
"Audacious debut novel."
by Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections,
"Here's excellent magic: the hours vanish, the pages turn themselves."
by Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,
"In his first novel, Glen David Gold gives a top-hat-and-tails performance worthy of a veteran trouper. Carter Beats the Devil is a novel-novel, the way The Thief of Baghdad, say, is a movie-movie. It is all the things a good novel has always been expected to be: suspenseful, compendious, moving, and persuasive. It transports you to another world, and the returns you to this one with a new way of looking at familiar things. I began it with a sense of regret that the faster I turned the pages the sooner I would be obliged to exit the enchanting world that Mr. Gold has devised for us."
by Aimee Bender, author of An Invisible Sign of My Own,
"Settle into your chair, get comfortable and prepare for an absolutely marvelous journey into magic and illusion. You hold in your hands the thick velvet curtains and the stage is waiting: open up! What a lucky reader you are, with all of Gold?s world of wonder waiting right here in your fingertips..."
by Mike Caveney, biographer of Carter the Great,
"I've been a practicing magician for over forty years and Glen Gold has completely baffled me. His historically based novel, Carter Beats the Devil, is layered with accurate descriptions of strange-looking apparatuses, the distinct language used by magicians, and with eccentric personalities that existed only during the heyday of vaudeville. It was a secret world that, by necessity, was closed to outsiders, and yet Gold's relentless research has allowed him to slowly untangle his tale of murder and intrigue in an environment that so accurately re-creates the Golden Age of Magic that one sometimes forgets that this story is simply a product of Glen Gold's devious mind."
by Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland,
"Carter Beats the Devil is an absorbing mystery, full of magic, romance, and history and populated with fascinating characters, both real and imagined, from the great Houdini, to a doomed President Harding, to the villainous Mysterioso. Glen David Gold is a first-rate storyteller, with his own hoard of magician's tricks."
by Karen Joy Fowler, author of Sarah Canary and Sister Noon,
"Gold has conjured one dead president, one blood-sucking dog, a ship full of pirates, and a cabal of Secret Service agents. it all makes for a wild and heartstopping show. Beautifully written, packed with fun, scares, and surprises. And magic in every word."
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