Celebrate Smoke & Mirrors Day With Some of Our Favorite Literary Magicians

Posted by Jennifer Morell

Hey, his character is the author of a book… so that counts, right?

Once when I was a kid, my school hosted a magician. I remember very little about the magic show, except that I was seated pretty far away from the stage. During the intermission, my dad went to get some snacks and came back giggling that he was going to be part of the act. Apparently, the magician approached him while he was waiting on line and asked him if he would be willing to come up on stage and act as his assistant. My dad handed over the snacks and then headed back up to the stage and disappeared behind the curtain. He thrust our clunky yellow camera at me and told me that I must capture his stage debut.

I sat anxiously throughout the second part of the show and was terrified when a guillotine was wheeled out on stage. My dad entered behind it. Though I was fairly certain that my dad would not be murdered in the middle of a crowded auditorium, when it came time for him to stick his head in the hole, I held the camera above my head and snapped without looking. The photos were blurry, but at least my father wasn’t decapitated in front of the entire school! He even got to keep a silk scarf that he had helped to retrieve from a hat.

In honor of Smoke and Mirrors Day (March 29th), we’d like to highlight some of our favorite magicians, especially the one who didn’t chop my dad’s head off in front of my entire elementary school. Add your favorite magicians — real or fictional — to the comments!

Vaclav from Vaclav & Lena: The young Vaclav in Haley Tanner’s 2011 debut novel, Vaclav & Lena, is obsessed with the magicians at the Coney Island Boardwalk. With the help of his lovely assistant, Lena, he longs to get their performance up to Coney Island caliber so they will be able to perform before the spellbound crowds. Tanner uses her own brand of magic to craft a charming tale of these two young Russian immigrants coming of age in Brighton Beach.

The Wizard from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: All is not as it seems when it comes to the larger than life Wizard. When The Land of Oz is in need of a ruler, it is not someone imbued with natural magical abilities, but a man from Nebraska who uses a variety of tricks and stage props to live up to the reputation that he is indeed great and powerful.

The Weasley Twins from Harry Potter: While of course the Weasley Twins are wizards, they've also created some Muggle Magic Tricks that they sell in their shop, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. Compared to their other tricks that used real magic, these card and rope tricks are not very big sellers.

Quentin Coldwater in The Magicians: Before Lev Grossman's Quentin Coldwater realizes that magic is real, he spent his childhood obsessed with magic tricks and a children's series set in a fantastical world. After his interview at Princeton takes an awful turn, he is accepted to Brakebills College, where he truly discovers his aptitude for magic.