Margarita Montimore, bestselling author of Oona Out of Order, flexes her full creative prowess in her third novel, Acts of Violet, about a sisterly rivalry shaped by magic and a generous helping of hope.
When famous stage magician Violet Volk vanishes in the middle of her act, the world is left with questions: Was Violet a master of her craft, or did she have real magical powers? Why did she disappear? And what’s going on with her sister, Sasha, who is strangely reluctant to discuss what happened?
As the 10th anniversary of Violet’s disappearance approaches, the public starts to buzz once again. Cameron Frank is determined to interview Sasha on his podcast; Sasha’s daughter, Quinn, knows that her mother is hiding something; and thousands of other people have their own theories. Montimore’s aptitude for world building is distinctive and remarkable, and she supplements Sasha’s first-person narration with podcast transcripts, newspaper articles, letters and websites to construct a convincing community around Violet’s story.
The magician sister and her mysteries may be the nexus of Acts of Violet, but the novel is equally focused on Sasha. Striving to keep her privacy, Sasha attempts to evade the press (and sometimes her family) while navigating precarious sleepwalking and mental deterioration. She grapples with questions of morality, family and loyalty as she tries to make sense of her relationship with her sister and whether or not Violet’s actions are forgivable. Sasha is a more persuasive, complex character than Violet, though perhaps Violet’s inscrutability is inevitable, given her occupation as a magician. However, for readers who strive to connect with every detail of a story, a reread may be helpful.
Humorous but not disproportionately so, suspenseful but not frightening and emotional but not tearful, Acts of Violet offers something for everyone. A quick read with irresistible charm, it’s a comfort book in every sense of the word, blending mystery, science fiction and family drama to satisfy a craving you didn’t quite know you had. In the end, you’ll be left with the inkling that there might be some truth to magic after all.