Smart Rhino Publications


A Novella by Lisa Mannetti

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    Box Jumper, a nickname ascribed to a magician’s assistant, typically a beautiful female, and historically an icon of glamour whose principal function on stage frequently involved—among other classic roles such as handling props, levitating or vanishing—misdirecting the audience.”

    The Magician’s Encyclopedia"


    In Lisa Mannetti's wonderfully disturbing novella, The Box Jumper, we meet Leona Derwatt, Houdini's assistant on and off stage, and one of his mistresses. Houdini not only takes her into his confidence, teaching her the intricacies of his magic, but teams with her as they confront and expose fraudulent psychics and mediums of their day. The tension in the story (based on Mannetti's thorough research) involves Houdini's conflicts with fake mediums (who may have been complicit in his death) and Leona's continued run ins with the same phoney psychics later in her life.

    If you enjoy historical fiction with underlying horror, this novella is for you!


    "With prose that is intriguing, literary, and always inviting, Mannetti is one of the few authors that I never seem to get enough of. ... THE BOX JUMPER proves once again that, when it comes to historical fiction, nobody does it better than Lisa Mannetti." — Horror World

    “In Lisa Mannetti’s magical THE BOX JUMPER, readers are treated to intriguing premises and finely wrought characterizations rooted in the hazy past of a bygone America. As usual, Mannetti’s driving narrative propels this fascinating portrait of illusionist Harry Houdini and the strange goings on in and around—even beyond—his world. Highly recommended to all who love a great story, excellent writing, and memorable characters with a haunting literary flair.” — Jason V. Brock, author of Milton’s Children and Disorders of Magnitude

    “‘Magic’ is the operative word for this moody novella. The magic of Harry Houdini serves as an overriding backdrop here, but another kind of magic permeates these pages—the magic of fine writing. Don’t expect the usual linear plot, because there is no direct narrative. Vivid dreams, surreal images, hypnotic memories, all serve to flesh out an unsettling tale that sweeps us into a new fictional dimension. Read THE BOX JUMPER and share the magic.” — William F. Nolan, author of Logan’s Run and screenwriter of Burnt Offerings

    “Like most writers, I was fascinated by the daring exploits of the great escape artist, Harry Houdini. And I loved the clever solutions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective, Sherlock Homes. What a pleasure to find them both again in this story told in first person by Lenore, a woman who knew and loved Harry Houdini. Lisa Mannetti cleverly interlaces fact and fiction in this exciting and sad tale. I read it through in one sitting, unable to set it down.” — Gene O’Neill, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Confessions of St. Zach and Deathflash

    “Lisa Mannetti’s THE BOX JUMPER is a passionately told story of love, memory, and how we can be possessed by both. Mannetti is, simply put, a master of the dark historical fantasy, and in THE BOX JUMPER she has all her talents on full display. The only really frustrating thing about her stories is how she manages to make perfection look so easy.” — Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Dog Days and Plague of the Undead

    “Lisa Mannetti has given us a look into the life of a fascinating historical character and cultural icon. Her novella brims over with dark suspense and a brilliant re-creation of a New York long gone. As always, she writes with passion and originality. A great story.” — Tom Monteleone, Bram Stoker and Locus Award-winning author of Night of Broken Souls and Eyes of the Virgin

    “A haunting tale of madness and mystery. Mannetti leads the reader through a thrilling maze of illusion and scandal surrounding world-famous magician and psychic debunker, Harry Houdini. As elusive as a magic trick, the story unfolds through the dubious memories of one of his former assistants who suffers from various illnesses throughout the story. Mannetti’s words entice the reader to explore a lewd world of liars and lust. As the layers of intrigue unfold, the reader is compelled to keep reading and isn’t disappointed.” — Sèphera Girón, author of Flesh Failure and Captured Souls

    “THE BOX JUMPER is pure magic! Lisa Mannetti conjures up a story like Houdini conjured handcuffs and then returns us to reality with a bang.” — Damon Reinbold, past President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 29, Little Rock, AR, and Ring 90, Albuquerque, NM; also past President of the Society of American Magicians Assembly 71, Albuquerque, NM