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Before We Disappear

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The Prestige meets What If It’s Us in Before We Disappear, a queer ahistorical fantasy set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, where the two assistants of two ambitious magicians find themselves falling in love amidst a bitter rivalry designed to tear them apart. Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility have served him well his entire life—mak The Prestige meets What If It’s Us in Before We Disappear, a queer ahistorical fantasy set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, where the two assistants of two ambitious magicians find themselves falling in love amidst a bitter rivalry designed to tear them apart. Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility have served him well his entire life—making him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in early-twentieth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks and copycat sleight-of-hand illusions, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago—not that she would ever admit it. But when they’re forced to flee the continent for America, the Enchantress finds a new audience in Seattle at the 1909 Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She and Jack are set to make a fortune until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s act threatens to overshadow the Enchantress and co-opt her audience. Jack has no choice but to hunt for the secrets behind Laszlo’s otherworldly illusions—but what he uncovers isn’t at all what he expected. What makes Laszlo’s tricks possible is, unbelievably, a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Wilhelm’s abilities defy all the laws of physics. His talents are no clever sleights-of-hand. But even though Laszlo and Wilhelm’s act threatens to destroy the life Jack and the Enchantress have built, Jack and Wilhelm have near-instant connection. As the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows increasingly dangerous and dire, Jack finds he has to choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him love. It's a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from acclaimed author Shaun David Hutchinson.


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The Prestige meets What If It’s Us in Before We Disappear, a queer ahistorical fantasy set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, where the two assistants of two ambitious magicians find themselves falling in love amidst a bitter rivalry designed to tear them apart. Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility have served him well his entire life—mak The Prestige meets What If It’s Us in Before We Disappear, a queer ahistorical fantasy set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, where the two assistants of two ambitious magicians find themselves falling in love amidst a bitter rivalry designed to tear them apart. Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility have served him well his entire life—making him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in early-twentieth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks and copycat sleight-of-hand illusions, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago—not that she would ever admit it. But when they’re forced to flee the continent for America, the Enchantress finds a new audience in Seattle at the 1909 Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She and Jack are set to make a fortune until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s act threatens to overshadow the Enchantress and co-opt her audience. Jack has no choice but to hunt for the secrets behind Laszlo’s otherworldly illusions—but what he uncovers isn’t at all what he expected. What makes Laszlo’s tricks possible is, unbelievably, a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Wilhelm’s abilities defy all the laws of physics. His talents are no clever sleights-of-hand. But even though Laszlo and Wilhelm’s act threatens to destroy the life Jack and the Enchantress have built, Jack and Wilhelm have near-instant connection. As the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows increasingly dangerous and dire, Jack finds he has to choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him love. It's a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from acclaimed author Shaun David Hutchinson.

30 review for Before We Disappear

  1. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    awww. this was super cute! and a little bit of a change of pace as far as SDHs stories are concerned. im so used to his books having a larger, deeper existential vibe to them, so it was refreshing to read something so lighthearted from him. yes, there are some heavier themes in this - primarily abuse, abandonment, racism, and sexism/misogyny - but overall, the magic (both real and illusionary) and the sweetness of a first love really lift this story up. the balance between wil and jack as a pair awww. this was super cute! and a little bit of a change of pace as far as SDHs stories are concerned. im so used to his books having a larger, deeper existential vibe to them, so it was refreshing to read something so lighthearted from him. yes, there are some heavier themes in this - primarily abuse, abandonment, racism, and sexism/misogyny - but overall, the magic (both real and illusionary) and the sweetness of a first love really lift this story up. the balance between wil and jack as a pair is done really well and i loved how they brought out the best in each other. i also loved the backdrop of a worlds fair as the setting for a magician rivalry! my only complaint would be the weird world building. i understand taking liberties with history to fit a narrative, but picking which things to change and which things to keep makes the world feel half-build (ex. no homophobia but major racism and sexism). the fantasy element was a little odd, too. literally only wil had actual magic and its just accepted, not explained. i think i would have preferred SDH really commit to a revisionist historical fantasy - i think it would have sold the setting more. but overall, this is an adorable story fans of SDH, magic, and historical fantasy should really enjoy! ↠ 4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sylvie

    Me thinking the guys on the cover look like Wylan and Jesper may or may not be the reason why I added this book to my tbr. Jk jk the synopsis and the genre were just as much of a reason why I want to read this book so bad.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Snjez

    On a positive note, I liked the audiobook. Both narrators were really good. And I liked the author's note at the end of the book. I appreciate what he was trying to do with this story. Sadly, I didn't enjoy the story as much as I hoped. I didn't find the plot that exciting. Wilhelm and Jack were likable, but all the other characters were a bit one-dimensional. Personally, I found Wilhelm's situation disturbing and it definitely affected my reading experience. TW: (view spoiler)[constant physical On a positive note, I liked the audiobook. Both narrators were really good. And I liked the author's note at the end of the book. I appreciate what he was trying to do with this story. Sadly, I didn't enjoy the story as much as I hoped. I didn't find the plot that exciting. Wilhelm and Jack were likable, but all the other characters were a bit one-dimensional. Personally, I found Wilhelm's situation disturbing and it definitely affected my reading experience. TW: (view spoiler)[constant physical and emotional abuse, captivity, racism (hide spoiler)]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lanz

    “The universe rarely gives us what we want. Sometimes we must content ourselves with what we are given.” Before We Disappear was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year. The premise of a historical fiction rivals-to-lovers between magicians was too good to pass up, so I was ecstatic to be approved for an audiobook arc! While my expectations definitely weren’t met, I still had a fun time following Jack and Wilhem through their shenanigans. ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ Set dur “The universe rarely gives us what we want. Sometimes we must content ourselves with what we are given.” Before We Disappear was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year. The premise of a historical fiction rivals-to-lovers between magicians was too good to pass up, so I was ecstatic to be approved for an audiobook arc! While my expectations definitely weren’t met, I still had a fun time following Jack and Wilhem through their shenanigans. ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ Set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska-Yukon-Exposition, Before We Disappear follows two rival magicians’ assistants as they fight to become the greatest show around. When Jack’s parents died, the Enchantress took him in to be a part of her show. Wilhelm, however, was kidnapped at a young age due to his secret ability to teleport—making him a very useful asset to the magician Laszlo. Jack and Wil cross paths during the Exposition, stumbling into a secret romance that further complicates Wil’s chance at escaping his captor. ~★~ I have a hard time pinpointing how I felt about this book. It was more than just okay, but less than great. Most of it was good enough to keep me reading, despite not much sticking out as particularly memorable. I do think I would have enjoyed this a little more if I read it psychically, because the audiobook was in a synthetic voice with the same tone for each character, making it hard to differentiate them at times. The representation was great, with a main gay and lesbian relationship plus very prominent poc characters. I liked that Shaun David Hutchinson decided to eliminate homophobia in this version of the 1900’s, but I was left wondering why racism and sexism still existed. It just felt strange to create a half-utopia when he could’ve went all the way there (though I liked his commentary on how wrongfully women and poc were treated back then). Jack and Wilhelm had great chemistry, which was in my opinion the highlight of the story. Wil’s sweetness paired with Jack’s tendency to be reckless was amazing; their interactions definitely made up for the lackluster plot. The power dynamics demonstrated through Laszlo an the Enchantress were great (I hated them both, which is a sign of a well executed villain). Overall, this was a decently enjoyable read, with characters who make up for the repetitive storyline. Thank you to Netgalley and HarperTeen for the audio-arc!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

    Just to sum this up: This is a m/m, enemies-to-lovers, (or rivals to lovers!?) magician book that plays around 1909? Holy smoke! Where was this all my life?! Can I get a copy now and live happily ever after? XD

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Look. At. That. COVER!!! I'm screaming from excitement rn Look. At. That. COVER!!! I'm screaming from excitement rn

  7. 5 out of 5

    booksandzoe

    When I was in middle school, I picked up We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. I didn't know it was queer, and I was dealing with my own little sexuality crisis. I didn't even know queer books existed. And not only was We Are the Ants queer, but it was also super good. When I read that book for the first time, I felt alive. I've spent all my years since reading that book chasing that feeling. I keep coming back to Shaun David Hutchinson looking to feel that again from his books, but I've ne When I was in middle school, I picked up We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. I didn't know it was queer, and I was dealing with my own little sexuality crisis. I didn't even know queer books existed. And not only was We Are the Ants queer, but it was also super good. When I read that book for the first time, I felt alive. I've spent all my years since reading that book chasing that feeling. I keep coming back to Shaun David Hutchinson looking to feel that again from his books, but I've never once felt it from his books again. This book was no exception. I think this book was definitely one of Hutchinson's better books, but that honestly doesn't say much. Things I liked: the plot was interesting, the romance had chemistry, I think the different authority figure abuse narratives were very well handled. Things I didn't like: the writing was very amateur, Hutchinson does a lot of "telling, not showing," the constant current American political references were cringy and just didn't fit in the writing. The constant liberal political references in this book were very irksome. This is a magical historical fiction set in America in the early 1900's. These constant allusions to modern politics really take the reader out of the story, and really detracts from the overall quality. (btw I'm a leftist pls don't take this bitching as me being a republican lolz) Overall... another very unremarkable book that had potential for more. I would love to see this concept with better writing. 2.5 stars rounded up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    There’s something about SDH’s writing that enchants me. Even so much that it doesn’t matter to me if he writes a contemporary, sci-fi, or historical novel, or a combination of all those genres, I just adore most of his books. I always make a lot of notes while reading, and I love the way Shaun seamlessly blends funny moments, serious issues, cute romances, fierce female side characters, and heart wrenching moments into his stories. We Are the Ants is utterly beautiful and is one of my most favor There’s something about SDH’s writing that enchants me. Even so much that it doesn’t matter to me if he writes a contemporary, sci-fi, or historical novel, or a combination of all those genres, I just adore most of his books. I always make a lot of notes while reading, and I love the way Shaun seamlessly blends funny moments, serious issues, cute romances, fierce female side characters, and heart wrenching moments into his stories. We Are the Ants is utterly beautiful and is one of my most favorite YA books ever. A Complicated Love Story in Space is so incredibly ingenious that I put it on my most memorable list of 2021. So, Before We Disappear. The story is engaging, cute, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and lyrical. Compared to A Complicated Love Story in Space, it’s a bit predictable, but the characters are so fleshed out, and the writing is so melodic that I found myself just indulging in the story, reading on and on and on. I laughed at witty moments: ”Look, if God hadn’t meant for me to pick pockets, he wouldn’t have given me such nimble fingers.” “He could‘ve intended for you to play the piano.” “I don’t think that pays quite as well.” I swooned over his writing: The fireworks exploded in a percussive symphony that caused the sky to ripple like a surface of a lake, each wave washing over us like the first breath of a new day. I adored Jack and Wilhelm and their sweet romance. Jack about Wilhelm: He’d shown me what real magic looked like, he’d shown me that there was more to the world than I ever thought possible, he’d shown me that love didn’t have to come with strings or conditions, and that it didn’t have to hurt. And Wilhelm about Jack: He crackled like Tesla’s fire. He was a million mirror shards turned inward, he was a rootless three following the sun. Jack was the most glorious creature I had ever seen. The blurb of Shaun’s next novel Howl gives me We Are the Ants vibes, so I’m ready to read that story! Preferably now! Okay, okay, I just need to wait a couple of months (only five or so …).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    So... is this the long version of his story in All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages? Because if so, it's all I've wanted since 2018. Give me the historical gay wizards's apprentices, please and thank you. 17/02/21 The cover just came out and it’s glorious. This book is also 500 pages. Thank you, gay gods, you’re being too kind. So... is this the long version of his story in All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages? Because if so, it's all I've wanted since 2018. Give me the historical gay wizards's apprentices, please and thank you. 17/02/21 The cover just came out and it’s glorious. This book is also 500 pages. Thank you, gay gods, you’re being too kind.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gabriele | QueerBookdom

    DRC provided by Harper360YA via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Representation: gay white protagonists, lesbian Black secondary character, queer white tertiary character, disabled white Italian tertiary character, Black tertiary character. Content Warning: emotional manipulation, violence, physical and emotional abuse, racism, kidnapping, death, sexism, misogyny, torture. Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson is a slow-paced, slow-burn, historical fantasy with soft Tangled vibe DRC provided by Harper360YA via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Representation: gay white protagonists, lesbian Black secondary character, queer white tertiary character, disabled white Italian tertiary character, Black tertiary character. Content Warning: emotional manipulation, violence, physical and emotional abuse, racism, kidnapping, death, sexism, misogyny, torture. Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson is a slow-paced, slow-burn, historical fantasy with soft Tangled vibes, set at the beginning of the twentieth century. dealing with self-love and ambition. Orphaned at a young age, Jack Devin is taken under the wing of the enigmatic Evangeline Dubois, also known as The Enchantress and other pseudonyms, a famous magician who assigns him the role of her assistant. After months in Paris, a foolish mistake forces them to escape the city and they journey towards Seattle and the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition. Wilhelm is born with a special talent. He can move himself, other people and objects through space. His skills are used by Teddy Barnes, a dangerous man in search of fame who kidnapped him when he was four, to steal valuable belongings from the most secure locations. Having heard of Exposition, Teddy decides that becoming an illusionist and passing Wilhelm’s talents as his glamours is the best way to achieve his glory. At the fair the two boys’ fates intertwine. I am usually very averse to slow pacing in books because of my concentration problems, but Shaun managed to keep my interest up with his beautiful and lyrical writing style that perfectly accompanies the story (I wish I read previous fictional works by Hutchinson because I would love to know if his writing style evolved throughout the years or it has always been this brilliant). Jack and Wilhelm, but especially Wilhelm (because Jack appears tough, but deep down he is a cinnamon-roll as well), are the exemplification of being cinnamon-rolls (and for those who yet do not know what that means, cinnamon-rolls are characters with cute, fluffy, caring, kind and beyond innocent, saint-like personalities) and their blossoming relationship is the fulcrum of this exquisite story, filled with intricate illusions, budding relationships and subterfuges. I loved seeing it grow and bloom. The relationship between the ambitious young ladies who befriend Jack and Wilhelm is another aspect of the story I deeply enjoyed and I would love if Jessamine and Ruth got a companion novella for their own adventures. Despite the slowness of the plot, Before We Disappear is a reading experience I genuinely recommend if you like cinnamon-rolls protagonists and lyrical prose.

  11. 5 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    Just want to say that this review is based on listening to a voice galley and not a true audiobook narrated by a live person. I will say that this particular voice galley was terrible in that sections were choppy and I had a difficult time with following the storyline. I'm pretty sure that if I read the ebook version, my opinion would be totally different. Just want to say that this review is based on listening to a voice galley and not a true audiobook narrated by a live person. I will say that this particular voice galley was terrible in that sections were choppy and I had a difficult time with following the storyline. I'm pretty sure that if I read the ebook version, my opinion would be totally different.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebeca

    2021 has definitely been the year of Shaun David Hutchinson for me. Though YA, they topics that he often tackles are anything but. Hutchinson is funny, the characters are relatable and plots are probably a tad predictable but not at all boring. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Before We Disappear was a magical ride! In it, you will meet Jack and Laszlo. Honestly, they were adorable in every single way. Plus the magic, tension, and rivalry just made me devour this book even more. I'll also admit that I was getting some Disney Channel vibe (the original movie's of course) with 'Now You See It..' Don't ask me why but the magic in this book automatically made me flashback to this little gem of a movie I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Before We Disappear was a magical ride! In it, you will meet Jack and Laszlo. Honestly, they were adorable in every single way. Plus the magic, tension, and rivalry just made me devour this book even more. I'll also admit that I was getting some Disney Channel vibe (the original movie's of course) with 'Now You See It..' Don't ask me why but the magic in this book automatically made me flashback to this little gem of a movie. It's weird - I know.. but that's just how my brain worked. It also probably made me enjoy this book a lot more. Other than that, the romance and the characters themselves were simply amazing. A bit predictable at times but I enjoyed the magical ride anyway. Heck, that ending was freaking cute and it made me very happy with how things turned out. I can't wait for more people to dive into this little gem and fall in love.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ruthie

    Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Audio for the audio galley of Before We Disappear. It was my choice to read it and I'm leaving this review voluntarily. I really loved this! The version I listened to was an audio galley mock-up with a synthesized voice so I'll definitely listen to it again when the actual audiobook comes out because I'm curious about how the voices will be personified. The characters were captivating (including a supporting character who shares my name), the dialogue was fun, wi Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Audio for the audio galley of Before We Disappear. It was my choice to read it and I'm leaving this review voluntarily. I really loved this! The version I listened to was an audio galley mock-up with a synthesized voice so I'll definitely listen to it again when the actual audiobook comes out because I'm curious about how the voices will be personified. The characters were captivating (including a supporting character who shares my name), the dialogue was fun, witty, and each character had a unique tone of voice. I liked the setting as well: 1909 Seattle Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition. I was hooked and had to keep listening. I also liked Shaun's author's note at the end saying that he realizes that in real history in 1909, his characters and their relationships would have been shunned but he wrote a queer joy version where we get to see them accepted instead. Also, he talks about his research of archived newspapers from 1909 and his inspiration taking walks around the area where the exposition was held. This extra information is always enjoyable for me to hear and made me like this book even more!

  15. 4 out of 5

    BookNightOwl

    I first received the audiobook through Netgalley and had a hard time getting into it because of the way it was recorded. So waited for the release date and ordered it through the library. The audiobook was fantastic as I followed along the lives of Jack and Wilhelm. I have read mostly everything from Shaun David Hutchinson and this was definitely different. I went in with an open mind reading this book. I enjoyed it was different.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Hutchinson

    Just a head's up for anyone who may have listened to the advanced audio book version through Netgalley or Edelweiss, or who are curious about the audiobooks: The advance audio copy was a computer-generated reading of the book intended for early reviewers. The official audiobook is read by Mark Sanderlin and André Santana, and it's amazing. I encourage you to check out the audiobook because the performances by André Santana and Mark Sanderlin are really something special. They brought their own m Just a head's up for anyone who may have listened to the advanced audio book version through Netgalley or Edelweiss, or who are curious about the audiobooks: The advance audio copy was a computer-generated reading of the book intended for early reviewers. The official audiobook is read by Mark Sanderlin and André Santana, and it's amazing. I encourage you to check out the audiobook because the performances by André Santana and Mark Sanderlin are really something special. They brought their own magic to Jack and Wil's story, and I'm really proud of how it turned out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Divya

    *4.5* I really liked this book! It took me a while to get through, but not because it’s bad. I just wasn’t able to get into it much. The strongest point in this was the characters. Every single one, whether main or side, was well developed and well written. I also really liked the plot. It was twisty and turny, but made so much sense. This book honestly had me hooked from the start. I really liked it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    Seems like Shaun David Hutchinson is becoming some sort of Jekyll and Hyde of gay novel authors. His books are either absolutely brilliant like We Are the Ants or A Complicated Love Story Set in Space or they are complete crap like The State of Us. Sadly this book belongs more to the latter category. A book about a romance between two young magicians in the early 1900s, with a stunning cover and over five hundred pages. This has to be enchanting and captivating, the perfect comfort-read. Well, no Seems like Shaun David Hutchinson is becoming some sort of Jekyll and Hyde of gay novel authors. His books are either absolutely brilliant like We Are the Ants or A Complicated Love Story Set in Space or they are complete crap like The State of Us. Sadly this book belongs more to the latter category. A book about a romance between two young magicians in the early 1900s, with a stunning cover and over five hundred pages. This has to be enchanting and captivating, the perfect comfort-read. Well, no. It's the exact opposite. There's almost no world building and no character development. It's as if the author said “You've all seen The Prestige, that'll have to do.” So everything is happening in the metaphorical white room with cardboard-like characters that are lacking depth. This makes characters like Jack rather unrelatable and characters like Teddy absolutely unbearable. Oddly enough there's also not much of a plot. Everything that happens in these first 150 pages I've read could be told in about five sentences. The plot is not only barely moving forward, it also seems to go nowhere. And what is actually happening is also quite predictable due to cardboard-like characters. [email protected]% – The main reason I quit reading this book is how unintentionally discomforting it is. For reference I absolutely love We Are the Ants. P.S. Not sure if I should give it a rating. If I'd had to I'd probably go with two stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    From PW: "A historical fantasy set during the 1909 Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition in Seattle. Jack, an orphan and magician's assistant, spies on their rivals to steal secrets of their magic tricks to find that the other magician's assistant, Wil, can perform real magic. This truth will result in death, so Jack and Wil face the ultimate choice to trust one another or vanish from it all." From PW: "A historical fantasy set during the 1909 Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition in Seattle. Jack, an orphan and magician's assistant, spies on their rivals to steal secrets of their magic tricks to find that the other magician's assistant, Wil, can perform real magic. This truth will result in death, so Jack and Wil face the ultimate choice to trust one another or vanish from it all."

  20. 4 out of 5

    micah ➳ canonicallychaotic

    ➳ thank you to net galley and harper audio for a free audio copy in exchange for an honest review. “the universe rarely gives us what we want. sometimes we must content ourselves with what we are given.” if you’ve followed me for a bit you might know that shaun david hutchinson is one of my favorite authors. SDH has a way of creating soft sci-fi worlds that are just familiar enough, but make us think: alien invasions, shrinking universes, resurrecting best friends. and now: magic at the 1909 a ➳ thank you to net galley and harper audio for a free audio copy in exchange for an honest review. “the universe rarely gives us what we want. sometimes we must content ourselves with what we are given.” if you’ve followed me for a bit you might know that shaun david hutchinson is one of my favorite authors. SDH has a way of creating soft sci-fi worlds that are just familiar enough, but make us think: alien invasions, shrinking universes, resurrecting best friends. and now: magic at the 1909 alaska-yukon-pacific exposition. before we disappear tells the story of jack, the clever teenage assistant to the famous stage magician, the enchantress. at the alaska-yukon-pacific exposition, his path crosses with wilhelm, also a magician’s assistant. while jack’s been performing illusions all his life, it’s nothing compared to the secrets wilhelm holds. secrets of real magic, and of a dark past. when we talk about found family, we usually look at it as groups of friends that we choose. sports teams. ragtag bunches of misfits. this book takes found family and spins it a different way—a found family made up of someone who saves you. a found family of someone who understands you for the first time. a found family of someone who doesn’t run when they learn the truth about you. a found family of someone that makes you believe in love and home. sdh’s books regularly ask you to suspend your disbelief. don’t try to get to the source of the science. just trust ot. that’s present here, and again in a different way. this book is queer as heck, and that’s not something entirely plausible in 1909. not safely, not the way it’s portrayed here. in the author’s note at the end, sdh says that he wanted to write about historical queer joy, because queer folks existed even if their stories weren’t told. even if they weren’t allowed to be. cw: physical abuse, mental abuse, gaslighting

  21. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    DNF @ 25%. I’m generally a fan of Hutchinson’s books, and while this should have been a slam dunk for me given the themes, I just wasn’t feeling it. His books usually have a wit to their narration, but that’s missing here, leaving it very dry and, well, boring. I couldn’t connect with anything to keep me reading. Sadly, we have another case of the cover being fantastic, but the book itself is just okay to forgettable. I’ll continue to try his future works though. 2.5/5 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana { She Who Reads Ya Books }

    3.5 ⭐️ How do you know if you actually love someone? Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility make him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago. But when Jack’s thievery catches up to them, they’re forced to flee to America to find their fortune. Luckily, the Enchantress is able to arrange a set of sold- 3.5 ⭐️ How do you know if you actually love someone? Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility make him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago. But when Jack’s thievery catches up to them, they’re forced to flee to America to find their fortune. Luckily, the Enchantress is able to arrange a set of sold-out shows at Seattle’s Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She’s convinced they’re going to rich and famous until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s show overshadows the Enchantress, leaving Jack no choice but to hunt for the secrets to his otherworldly illusions. But what Jack uncovers isn’t at all what he expected. Behind Laszlo’s tricks is Wilhelm—a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Jack and Wilhelm have an instant connection, and as the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows, so too does Jack and Wilhelm’s affection. But can Jack choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him everything? This book was a rollercoaster, and not an emotional one. I’m here to discuss this book and my thoughts. If you reading this through goodreads, you may have seen my reactions. I loved the concept of this. It was so brilliant yet so simple. And my historical fiction heart was all here for it. But the book in parts disappointed me. The idea could’ve been expanded on so much more. Let’s talk about the characters. For the first half of the book, when Jacks and Wilhelm interact it felt robotic, and sometimes their interactions with other characters as well. It felt like they weren’t having conversations, but reading of a script, by themselves. It was weird and I couldn’t understand why it felt this way, especially since in the second half of the book they interacted very well together. The romance. It’s all supposed to be about first love. I loved how slow it was at the beginning, and it was perfect in my opinion. The only thing was, for the main romantic relationship, it felt like they went from going 10 miles an hour to 1000 miles per hour in less than a couple of minutes. They were suddenly death do us part when they hadn’t known each other for more than a couple of months. It kinda felt like instant love with how fast it happened. The historical history was one of my favourite parts. Every time the author wrote about it, I was in love. IT WAS BRILLIANT. I wish he’d explored more about the actual world fair itself, especially since it felt like there was so much that could’ve been introduced instead of just talking about the characters. The settings that were actually in the book from the fair weren’t a lot and I would’ve loved to see more of them. The heist, the cons, everything about that aspect was perfection. I wish we’d experienced more of it in the book. It was interesting and grabbed your attention. There was always an air of mystery as well. I think that’s why the beginning and end were so interesting to me. The friendships were so cute like seriously. I didn’t enjoy the fact that every time (and I think it was almost everything) they met someone they wanted to be friends with they explained their life story. It would just be like hi and then explains everything. Afterwards though the author did an amazing job with the family and friends relationships. I really enjoyed the ending. I thought it was really cute, and it closed the story well. Personally I really enjoyed the concept of the book, but in some parts it felt robotic, unnatural, or boring. I wish the author had focused on different aspects of the story than they did, since there was a lot they could’ve explored.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    is this the most beautiful-est cover i've ever seen? yes it fuckn is is this the most beautiful-est cover i've ever seen? yes it fuckn is

  24. 5 out of 5

    An

    okay, I'm crying just by looking at the cover okay, I'm crying just by looking at the cover

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kasee Bailey

    Wow! I really, really, enjoyed this book! The writing is captivating and lovely, and the story unique and un-put-down-able. I love the real-life setting intertwined with the fantasy, and the plights of the characters were heart-wrenching and tender. An absolute stunner by Shaun! Also, I would die for Wil and Jack. Thank you. (A pencil review coming to @longhandpencils closer to pub date.) A big thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mina

    dnf the arc audiobook was provided via netgalley, so I was super excited because I had read we are the ants. however, I physically can't tell if siri is doing a voice over or if its an actual person. its so monotone, and the emphasis' are all over the place so its impossible to understand the sentence. maybe it would have been a better book if I had read it instead, but this was pretty painful to listen to. I dont want to give it a rating because it feels unfair of me, but up to the point I stopp dnf the arc audiobook was provided via netgalley, so I was super excited because I had read we are the ants. however, I physically can't tell if siri is doing a voice over or if its an actual person. its so monotone, and the emphasis' are all over the place so its impossible to understand the sentence. maybe it would have been a better book if I had read it instead, but this was pretty painful to listen to. I dont want to give it a rating because it feels unfair of me, but up to the point I stopped at I would give it a 1.5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stacey-Lea

    I came into this book wanting a young adult, queer The Prestige-esque, story and I was not disappointed. So if queer enemies to lovers set in the early 1900s with magic and secrecy sounds like your vibe then this is the book for you. Before We Disappear is a character driven magical adventure. Introducing you to two magicians assistants, Jack and Wilhelm, and a rag tag bunch of side character friends as well as some despicable villains, and it all comes together in this fun, whimsical story. Tho I came into this book wanting a young adult, queer The Prestige-esque, story and I was not disappointed. So if queer enemies to lovers set in the early 1900s with magic and secrecy sounds like your vibe then this is the book for you. Before We Disappear is a character driven magical adventure. Introducing you to two magicians assistants, Jack and Wilhelm, and a rag tag bunch of side character friends as well as some despicable villains, and it all comes together in this fun, whimsical story. Though I will say, it isn’t all just fun and magic, Hutchinson deals with some dark and heavy topics in here but they’re handled with such craft and care that it just elevates the story as a whole. There’s also some beautiful flowery words in here – I'll give you this for a taste: She was a dream made flesh and he was a bad idea impossible to resist. Together they were beguiling. Overall, I really loved my time with this book. There were a few moments of lull, and I will admit it took a little to get into, but I'm so happy to have read Jack and Wil’s story and to have felt the magic of their world. ARC provided by the publishers through Edelweiss for an honest review

  28. 5 out of 5

    Avery

    like 3.5. listennnnn i was looking forward to this book and it didn’t really meet my expectations but that’s okay!! it was still and average book. while i was reading i thought this was a debut novel because it read like one. it wasn’t! i think i would’ve rated it higher if it was. there were just a couple things with this book that i didn’t like. a couple characters that i hated but i don’t think i was supposed to hate yk? plus the main characters were like 16! they were talking about their fut like 3.5. listennnnn i was looking forward to this book and it didn’t really meet my expectations but that’s okay!! it was still and average book. while i was reading i thought this was a debut novel because it read like one. it wasn’t! i think i would’ve rated it higher if it was. there were just a couple things with this book that i didn’t like. a couple characters that i hated but i don’t think i was supposed to hate yk? plus the main characters were like 16! they were talking about their future and everything and i was like my guy ur 16. this look felt like it was meant for 14 year olds which again!! isn’t a bad thing!! but still i wasn’t the best book i’ve read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bea

    3.75 This was a cute historical fantasy. Illusionist assistant rivals try to steal each other’s secrets but catch feelings instead

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nel

    It was a quick and easy read for me, in the best sense possible. Two Edwardian cinnamon rolls against crooked people. Also, after the reading the book, I finally understand the title.

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