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Publisher's Summary

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!

It’s a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from the acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and Brave Face, Shaun David Hutchinson.

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-19th-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks, the Enchantress’ 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 who 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?

It’s a stirring tale about the magic of love from award-winning author Shaun David Hutchinson.

©2021 Shaun David Hutchinson (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Before We Disappear

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Boring and racial weirdness

I was so bored and annoyed halfway through I couldn't make myself finish. It feels ploddingly didactic about social issues and like the author wants to show how woke they are. But then why are the only people who are introduced by race black, and everyone else has an actual physical description. And there's strange phrases like how Jack goes to fit in among the "working class" crowd, and again no descriptor. So we are meant to assume that they are dressed shabbily? And the "hook nose" lawyer guy, dude, that's an old school anti-semitic stereotype. Are you kidding me with this?

Also, halfway through there was still zero character development and repeated unrelenting descriptions of severe abuse that seem disproportionate to the story somehow. Like, I get it, the bad guys are bad. Get on with the plot. Could have been a good story with an original plot, but nope.

7 people found this helpful

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Promising story, but clunky and in need of a good editor

I liked where this story was going but couldn’t get past the writing. Lots of adverbs and exposition (characters tend to trade life stories within seconds of meeting each other). I’d definitely be interested in reading more from this author after he’s had more practice and learned the importance of revision.

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An excellent start!

Cant wait to see what happens next for the characters of this book. Use of history alongside the fantasy was wonderful. It would be wonderful to see the story to continue to follow the history of the circus that were prevalent in those times. 10/10 would listen again.

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Not Harry Potter but still good

Reminded me of The Prestige with a romantic theme. Always a great experience with Shaun David Hutchinsons novels.

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Absolutely loved it!

This book was so wonderful I ended up completely emerged. I truly felt for the characters and wanted to jump into the book itself and protect some of them from the tragic situations they were placed in.

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A Beautiful work of Fiction

I absolutely ADORED this story even with its flaws. it was heart wrenching and I couldn't stop for even a second! The villan is perfect and believable and it felt almost real! I hope we can get a short story to round this off but it was perfect.

the author note made me cry. We are here. We are valid. We deserve love.

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only one nitpick

I loved this novel and the story it told. it kept me interested enough to listen in every stolen moment I could find. My only problem i could say I found was that, for a novel that took liberties with the reception of sexual orientations during the period, the author still found a need to include racism? I honestly can't think where the racism was needed. it's a fine line of "do we acknowledge that racism was a thing back then or choose to do the same we did with homosexuality with this story and say fuck it no racism?" I'm not one to really make that call but it did stand out to me that women talked of being doctors and detectives and queer couples were able to be out in the open....but to be black was a stigma? My brain caught on that, I suppose.

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Great suspense and intrigue! Love this story!

This young adult story took a real historical context and told a beautiful tale of cherished caring between LGBT characters with a magical finish.

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  • Drdzim
  • 06-02-22

An ok listen

The story is good and intriguing enough to get you hooked. But it's stretched thin because it lasts longer than it needs to. As a reader/listener, you'd probably put things together long before the characters do. So you'd just wait, painfully, for them to figure it out. It's a beautiful love story, but I would enjoy it more if everything wasn't spelled out and explained. I suppose, it's a personal taste, but I'd enjoy more action instead. The author is great with characters, all of them felt alive, and it was interesting to see where they'd end up.

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  • Abigail
  • 03-28-22

Fantastic

I was thrilled to listen to a story full of joyful friends and dazzling moments, this was then combined with the pleasure of excellent building and period world building stage. I couldn’t have asked to more 🥰