Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician

Genre: Fiction; Author: Daniel Wallace; Publisher: Doubleday

In Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician, the year is 1954, and Henry Walker is the titular illusionist traveling the American South with Jeremiah Mosgrove’s Chinese Circus. Once a renowned performer who purportedly made a pact with the devil (Mr. Sebastian) for his powers, Henry is now a parody of his former self, drawing crowds as much for his ineptitude as for the novelty of performing as a black magician. When Henry disappears one night, fellow circus performers recount his tragic fall from grace. As with other magic stories, nothing is quite what it seems, and Wallace (who wrote the novel Big Fish) conjures up an overreaching tale that blurs fantasy and reality. Too often, Magician reveals its hand before hooking in its readers, leaving little room for wonder. C+

Originally posted July 30 2007 — 12:00 AM EDT

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