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Midcentury Mysticism In The Great Bravura By Jill Dearman

Prose and conjurers link like a magician’s rings in this tale. Now you “seer,” now you don’t!


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Think the magic word is abracadabra?

 Close, but no cigar—it’s abra-cadaver.

 Sapphic sorceress Bravura is known for her bravado and mentalist mentality.

 Her wife Lena, on the other hand, is imperious, mysterious, and, in the eyes of Bravura’s best pal and business manager Susie, deleterious.

 It’s an optical illusion, of course—just because Bravura’s other half wants to saw Susie in half doesn’t mean that Lena has something other than flowers up her sleeve.

 Or does it?

 Like Bravura, Lena is both flamboyant and clairvoyant. But great mind readers don’t always think alike, and despite their telepathic connection, Lena is hardly as predictable as a Magic 8 Ball.

So when, during a performance, Susie is transformed into The Invisible Manager, Bravura can no longer labor under the illusion that Lena is as harmless as a rabbit in a top hat.

Is Lena’s legerdemain too much for this lesbian to handle? Or can Bravura get her vanishing act together and make Susie (re)appear unharmed?

Like her protagonist, author Jill Dearman knows every trick in the book, which allows her to augment artifice with authenticity.

The characters don’t quite levitate off the page, though, thus making it difficult to gravitate to them. However, as an exploration of postwar prestidigitation, The Great Bravura casts as many spells as Orson Welles. In this regard, there is nothing slight about the author’s hand; in fact, she has all the dexterity of a knife thrower.

So if you’re in the mood for a Houdini whodunit with an androgynous enchantress, The Great Bravura will do the trick.

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