The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham

It’s no secret that Maugham is one of my favourite authors; in my opinion he was an excellent storyteller and he could write the most incredibly unique and fascinating characters. Reading The Magician did not disappoint but it definitely held some surprises. 

The magician

I read this during my craving for all things Parisian last spring (when I also read this and this), shortly after I got back from my short holiday in Paris. It’s set in the early 19th century and a large part of the book takes place in bohemian Paris, which of course I loved. The story quite quickly turns dark and rather creepy as the plot involves hypnotism and mind control. It’s a really thrilling book and I think that Oliver Haddo, the magician, was an extraordinary character, so sinister and mysterious.

This exploration of the occult is a wonderfully scary gothic story, easy to read and very enjoyable. However, the novel is very different to most other works by the author; I don’t think that the horror element and the -relatively-fast paced plot are the usual trademarks of Maugham but he certainly pulls it off. In my opinion it goes to show how amazing a writer he was, he could write something neo-Victorian like this and then later, a masterpiece like The Razor’s Edge. I would suggest that if you are not familiar with Maugham you don’t start with this. Perhaps it’s best if you read some of his better known works and then return to The Magician for something different.

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