NPR: Shaun David Hutchinson’s Before We Disappear begins with a lighter premise: Jack is a pickpocket and magician’s assistant. He works for The Enchantress, a stage magician who has stunned audience across Europe with her illusions — while robbing them blind with her scam artist schemes. When they have to flee Paris after unwisely stealing another magician’s trick, she announces that their next stop is America, where she has been engaged to headline at Seattle’s Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. When they arrive in Seattle, it feels like a place Jack might actually want to stay a while. But then a mysterious new magician turns up and begins stealing their audience with an impossible trick — one that even Jack can’t seem to figure out.
And even more mysterious is this new magician’s assistant, a boy called Wilhelm. The more Jack finds out about him, the clearer it becomes that maybe the reason he can’t figure out the trick is because it isn’t really a trick at all, and Wilhelm is somehow performing actual magic. And even worse, perhaps he isn’t a magician’s assistant by choice, but is being held captive by a con artist far, far more malicious than Jack can even imagine. But when everyone is running a con, who can you really trust?