Margarita Montimore (Oona Out of Order) astonishes readers with her authorial sleight of hand in the twisty, genre-defying family drama Acts of Violet, told in multiple formats.
Superstar stage magician and self-help guru Violet Volk rose to prominence as a pop-culture icon, then performed a vanishing act for a packed house on February 24, 2008, and never reappeared. Ten years later, her sister, Sasha, stresses about an upcoming vigil for the anniversary of Violet's disappearance and the media circus attached to it. Sasha has never spoken publicly about her sister, but podcast host Cameron Frank must get her to talk to him or lose his job. Through chapters told from Sasha's perspective as well as podcast transcripts, news articles and letters, two versions of Violet emerge, one a genius magician and feminist role model beloved by fans and the other a mercurial narcissist. "Anyone who tells you they knew Violet Volk is a liar," her ex-husband says. As the anniversary approaches, it becomes clear that the world may never know what happened to Violet, but Sasha has her own secrets.
The story has the feel of a crime thriller by way of The X-Files, though Montimore gives it a serious core with reflections on the lot of women in the entertainment industry. The interspersing of interviews and media pieces creates a broader sense of Violet's magnetic personality and the time period, an effect reminiscent of Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones & the Six. Montimore packs in dazzling tricks, but the complex and enduring relationships between the sisters brings the real magic. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads