What would happen if one day a genuine magician with real magic came to a city of illusionists who live entirely in a world of artifice and sleight of hand?
This is one of the very few books that I have read more than once. It left a very deep impression on me the first time round, aged 13 or so, and not just because I got some sort of fictional-character-crush on the girl in the story. It was my first exposure to Paul Gallico’s profound gift for the allegorical and, with hindsight, I have to acknowledge that it must have shaped my impressionable mind in a very significant way.
The fact that first I read this book at a fairly young age demonstrates the universal appeal and accessibility of the writing, but having the opportunity to re-read it nearly 20 years later I found still more delight and depth in the telling of the tale although it was very much shorter than I remember it being. For a book that looms so large in my memory and imagination, I was surprised to re-read it in a single evening.