Title: Sleight of Hand
Author: Katrina Strauss
Genre: Historical/Paranormal GLBT (M/M)
Length: short story
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
What if the man of your dreams is also the one of your nightmares?
Edwin Matthews just wants to get some sleep. Traveling by steam train with his family, the melancholic nineteen year old is plagued by restless nights and recurring dreams of a fiery disaster. When a mysterious magician comes aboard, the troubled insomniac’s trip takes an interesting turn.
Tall, dark, and incredibly handsome, the flamboyant Sir Marco Satori offers to cure what ails Edwin. Spurred by equal parts curiosity, desperation, and attraction, Edwin agrees to the experiment. Suddenly he finds his quiet journey turned into a wild ride of life, love, sex, death..and a few strange things in between.
He also finds himself claimed—in more ways than one—while a promise of “eternity” may be more than Edwin bargains for.
Edwin suffered from recurring nightmares all his life and at one point he had been committed to an asylum at fourteen for what appeared to be an incurable medical condition. At the root of his undiagnosed medical symptoms was his inability to sleep, and consequently he had lost a great deal of weight. Now nineteen, he still suffers from this condition and the story opens with Edwin, his sister Alma and their mother on a train journey which changes his life, because it is on the train that he meets Magician Sir Marco Satori. Edwin and his family were on their way to meet up with the man to whom Alma is getting married, a man old enough to be her grandfather, because Edwin cannot provide for the family due to his delicate health and lack of job skills. So poor Alma is the sacrificial lamb, but Alma is no lamb and has plans of her own.
The first time young, innocent Edwin sees Marco he is attracted to the incredibly good looking person who would be any woman’s dream man, but he’s conflicted because he does not understand his feelings towards someone of the same sex. He had felt these urges before toward other men but always understood them to be unnatural. Marco charms Edwin the first time they meet and he is sure that they have a connection beyond anything he had ever experienced before. Edwin has no experience in the ways of the world and he soon finds out what kind of connection, as he falls more and more under Satori’s spell. However, he’s not sure if he’s under hypnosis or whether his feelings are real since Satori is, by trade, a magician. Very soon after, Edwin crosses the ultimate line and Marco makes love to him.
Edwin is totally fascinated by the magician but he can’t decide if Marco is a man or something else unimaginable. Also, there appears to be something going on with his sister Alma that rings alarm bells. Shortly after his seduction, Satori promises him eternal life and his recurring nightmare comes true; it is then that he realizes how little he knows about the magician.
This is an intriguing paranormal story and the author does a great job of drawing the reader into Edwin’s and Marco’s world with her dramatic prose which conjures up incredible images, and her superb, extremely detailed and stunning world building for such a short book. Her characters were well defined and three dimensional and the fabulous Marco’s first appearance sets up the reader for this terrific read.
In Sleight of Hand Katrina Strauss gives the readers much more than one would expect. The author’s prose really sets the stage for the surprises along the way, which are many. Sir Marco Satori is a flamboyant character, a perfect foil to the very pedestrian Edwin who is still a likable character because he has endearing traits such as his love and concern for his sister in her new role of provider for the family. The one aspect of the book I couldn’t understand was why the gorgeous Marco was attracted to Edwin who is not at all remarkable in any way and is sickly looking, even though the author gives the readers a plausible explanation. Here was this very green young man, with very little going for him, who enchants the worldly Marco into making a life altering decision for no apparent reason except the one provided in the story. Maybe it’s just me – you be the judge when you read the book.
The end of the story is quite startling and I think you will enjoy Sleight of Hand as much as I did. Buy this book!
This book contains at least one scene of non consensual or dubious consent sex