The Illusionist

The Illusionist
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

When a charming magician Dean Lily shows up in a decaying, small town, he wins the hearts of the young women of the town —but what they don't know is that Dean has more secrets and tricks than a simple sleight of hand.

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The Illusionist is a sensuous and haunting tale of a master of seduction and charm—which becomes apparent as he woos and wins the hearts of the women of the town. But the enigmatic newcomer has more to hide than the tricks of his trade. Dean’s mysterious identity as a transgendered person, and his closely guarded privacy, arouse suspicion and jealousy—and he unleashes a destructive force that rocks the very foundations of the town to its core. Inspired in part by a true story, The Illusionist is a fiercely erotic novel that thwarts conventions of gender and love.

  1. Stephen King

    “Mesmerizing, erotic suspense.”

  2. Kirkus Reviews

    “[A] dark, meditative tale of a transsexual's murder in upstate New York…[a] haunting exploration of a senseless and brutal murder.”

  3. The New York Times Book Review

    “A skillfully written novel. And its greatest strength is the sensitivity with which Smith explores the complexities of love.”

  4. Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

    “[A] quicksilver novel in which nothing, not even sexual identity, is unwavering…Smith has stripped away an even greater illusion: that human sexuality is straightforward and fathomable, normative and neat.”

  5. Alan Cheuse, NPR

    “[An exploration of gender roles, love and longing in upstate New York. …a surprising and powerful novel that touches on the underlying social disorder in small towns.”