Madness and Magic Wanted

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

514c8avv4glPhew, glad that’s over! I was not expecting to be this disappointed with the book, but here I am with a two-star review, happy that I don’t have to slog through this story any longer.

There are a number of things about this book that should have made it a winner. It all takes place in Chicago, my hometown, at the end of the 19th century. I’m not a big history nerd, but I was excited to learn all about this significant time in my city’s history. On top of that, half of this story is about Chicago’s first serial killer, who takes advantage of the unique environment the Columbian Exposition creates in the city.

Unfortunately, excitement quickly gave way to boredom as the pages went on. I found that the story got too bogged down by excess detail, especially when it came to the creation/building of the World’s Fair towards the middle of the book. , I enjoyed hearing familiar names of town and streets, and there were some interesting tidbits given here and there (like the fact that PBR got the “Blue Ribbon” in its name for winning at the Fair), but for the most part they were few and far between. Even the tellings of Holmes’ killings at times felt too cerebral, with little emotion in the voice of the narration.

The subtitle of this book promises “Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.” I certainly got the murder, and maybe a touch of madness, but magic? That was disappointingly lacking.

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