Luciana loves magic and as the granddaughter of the ‘Magnificent Marko’, once the most famous stage magician, she has been lucky enough to have been taught by her grandfather. However when he dies, her grandmother is visited by Thursby, the leader of the Grand Society of Magicians who wants to find the secret of her grandfather’s greatest trick – the Golden Butterfly. Luciana and her best friend Charley decide to visit London in an attempt to find out the secret of this trick. They uncover a number of mysteries, not least being the true identity of another magician Adolphus Merritt and also why so many parts of the theatre seem to trigger memories for Luciana.
This story is wonderful example of the crime thriller tales that have been made popular over the last few years. This one is set at the end of the Victorian period and highlights many of the social issues that were prevalent in that period; in fact some of them are still issues today, especially the role of women and social inequality. However this is also a story about family in its many forms, and also about friendship that doesn’t follow the rules of society. The author has created a very atmospheric world, but particularly that of the variety theatre and the audiences that visited them. The villain is truly obnoxious, mainly because of his views about women, but also because he seeks to steal someone else’s work. I truly enjoyed the descriptions of the area around the Strand and anyone who knows that part of London will have no problem in following the route that the two intrepid investigators take. It is definitely a book for those who love Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine and anyone who loves reading about the Victorian period; I would also say that it is for boys and girls as both are fascinated by magic tricks and great adventures.