Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2014 September 05 • Friday

Finally got around to reading this:

It starts out with three stories running on parallel tracks. In one of them Victor Losa has just become the greatest magician in the world. In another young Victor is studying magic, practicing and working toward his future success while struggling with his father's mysterious accidental death. And much further in the past a pickpocket named Peter Grouse plans his revenge against one of the greatest magicians of the nineteenth century.

The book switches gears after a while, however, when the successful adult Victor loses his sight. The second half of the book covers his struggling with blindness, whether he can find a life worth living in the dark. The first lines of the book, describing Victor backstage just before the great success he has been working toward all his life, are thus rather ironic considering what comes later.

"There are only a few steps between him and the green door—eleven, twelve, maybe. It is too dark to count them. Victor Losa stops, takes a deep breath; this, he thinks, is the happiest moment of his life."

The Manual of Darkness is best when dealing with the magic parts of the story. The relationships between characters are well handled but too familiar: the tragic and inexplicable death of a parent haunting the child for the rest of his life, the mentor who replaces the missing father, the rookie social worker challenged by the man who doesn't want to heal. There's even a prostitute with a heart of gold.

Despite this, the conclusion is touching and the book worth reading.