Published by St Martin's Press September 2010
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours
Mel Snow, working for a textile company that provides the textiles to casinos and hotels in Nevada, is sitting in a roadside bar/casino when she first meets Toby Warring, a magician who can pull roses from thin air but doesn't always seem to have full control over his magic. Little more than 24 hours later, Toby and Mel are married and soon find themselves in Las Vegas, where Toby hopes to make it big.
"I married Tobias Warring in the Silver Bells All-Nite Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. It was a conventional start to our unconventional story. And it was an attempt to conjure something solid from the wind-scattered sands."
Mel know that there are a lot of magicians trying to make it in Vegas but she's seen Toby do marvelous things and knows that he's different--his magic is real. But both Toby and Mel are searching for something and what Toby's searching for may just prove to be more than the couple can handle.
This book grabbed me on the first page...and then it kind of lost me for the next few pages. Interest in the characters kept me reading. I wanted to know more about what kind of people find themselves willing to marry a stranger and what Mel and Toby might each be looking for in the desert.
"For Toby, it was a way to conjure something permanent into his too-malleable world and perhaps, I wondered, to replace someone he'd made vanish. For me, maybe it was a way to fill a hole torn by my brother's defection - but that was a story I had yet to tell my husband."
Yes, indeed, Toby had made his last assistant vanish and he's desperate to try to find a way to bring her back. Mel is searching for her brother Max, a water person, who may or may not be dead. And trying to find those answers helps drive the book to find out answers to greater questions, such as is love real or just an illusion.
Pochoda is certainly a talented writer, one who can vividly paint a scene:
"Like a fish in a tank, I had grown used to living without natural light since arriving in Vegas and mistook the city's shrunken castles and palaces for the real thing. I was was drugged with the lazy promise of simple days, of conveyor belts that moved me, slots that might make me rich, and around-the-world trips that were just across the street."
Amsterdam, in particular, came alive for me. And the story is unlike any other I've read. The reviews for The Art of Disappearing rave about the story but, to be honest, my initial reaction to the book stuck with me throughout. I would be pulled in and then I'd lose interest. There were a lot of characters in the story and they began to clutter up the story of Toby and Mel for me. I have to admit that the idea of "real" magic was a problem for me; a problem other readers may not have. To add to my struggle with the book, I never really felt as if Toby and Mel were in love; for example, Mel refers to Toby as "the magician" more often than she refers to him by name.
I wanted to like the book more, I really did. In the end, given the raves for the book, I was left wondering if I had missed something. Other people certainly have different opinions--for more of them, check out TLC Book Tours for all of the tour reviews.