This début novel brings 1920s Sydney to life through a fairy-tale lens, highlighting the city’s romance, its magic and its mystery. In alternating point-of-view chapters, the stories of three misfits unfold. Ari is a European Jewish refugee, raised in Sydney by his devout uncle, who wants him to become a rabbi. But Ari has other plans: an admirer of Houdini, he dreams of becoming a professional magician. Billy is a conman, a charming drifter who delights in seducing women and parting fools from their money. Ari and Billy are both drawn to the stunningly beautiful Lily, a run-away who uses a false name and hides terrible secrets.
In spite of their cultural differences, Lily and Ari begin to kindle a tentative romance. But Billy’s obsession with Lily threatens their happiness; determined to seduce and possess her, he schemes and plots in an attempt to undermine the couple’s new bond.