Book Review: The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher

I was a little disappointed with this book. I chose it more for the witch and less of the Houdini, but you don’t see much of “The Witch of Lime Street” until about halfway through the book. The first part is buildup and context that isn’t really needed. If you are a Houdini fan, then this book is for you. I was more so hoping he would just be a supporting character in the story — one to draw people in and frame the story. But no. He is the majority of the story.

I did like all the quotes from The New York Times and the like from the time period, and the pictures. But the book is so heavily male oriented. As I guess all things were back then. I was more interested in the seances and the witch, a Canadian Woman named Mina Crandon–known as Margery. Her wikipedia page is not as good as the book, though, so if you want to know more about her, which I did, then you should read through this book.

The story points out that Houdini “was seen by many occultists as the Antichrist to Spiritualism.” I never realized his story involved such great lengths to disprove this type of “magic,” when it seemed he tried to appear magical himself? I didn’t really/still don’t  know much about Houdini–though I like the legend/idea of him and find magicians charming (though their history very sexist; the book doesn’t go to any lengths to address this sexism–why women did the seances and men did the magic tricks–like I had hoped).  I wish a book like this had been written by a female. Maybe the focus would have been different. Perhaps there is a book out there like that and I’m just too lazy to look for it.  In the book she is called “the medium” a great deal instead of her name or stage name being used. Houdini is given his name, as well as all the other men. She is dehumanized. Even now, as someone who (kind of) tricked Houdini, she is not treated as his equal.

Also, this book is ridiculously long. 400-ish pages. It’s more textbook than general interest.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
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