It's a Whimsical Mashup of Family Drama and Sci-Fi in Chicago with 'Spoonbenders'

It's a Whimsical Mashup of Family Drama and Sci-Fi in Chicago with 'Spoonbenders'

Thursday, 4 March, 2021

The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.

This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.


This weekend, spend your time with a family that will charm you with their bickering, loyalty, and abiding love for each other. Set in Chicago, the story takes you from the 1960s to the ’90s, capturing the optimism and affinity for crime that runs rampant in the Windy City.

The Amazing Telemachus Family was on its way to fame and fortune. What else to expect from a family that includes a psychic, a human lie detector, and a kid with telekinetic powers?! But one night, a disastrous performance brings their career to a halt. This is the story of everything that happened next.

When card sharp and altogether charming con man Teddy Telemachus meets Maureen, he’s immediately smitten. Who cares that they ran into each other in the offices of Stargate, a government agency trying to harness psychic powers to win the Cold War? Love is love is love.

Soon their young family is on an upward trajectory of fame. For one glorious year, they tour the United States as The Amazing Telemachus Family. But when tragedy strikes not once but twice, the family splinters — until a series of unusual circumstances bring them back together.

What begins as a whimsical, almost-sci-fi romp gradually becomes the heart-warming (and riotously funny) family saga you didn’t know you needed. These characters love each other in the messy, sarcastic way of real families with long-held grudges, inside jokes, tender moments, and plenty of teasing.

In no particular order and with no spoilers, the story also weaves magic tricks, shootouts, psychic phenomena, touches of romance, and second (third and fourth) chances into a page-turning novel. When the cinematic climax arrives, it catches all the balls that have been in the air in one graceful swoop.

Playful, mischievous, and a little bit madcap, this novel will transport you to the Chicago of the 1960s and the 1990s with an unforgettable family.

You didn’t fool me, Maureen McKinnon, because you weren’t trying to. You’re the real thing. It took me long enough to believe it — it’s against my nature. I’d be damned if some blue-eyed Chicago beauty was going to make a mark out of me. But you, you’ve got the goods. You’re an honest-to-God psychic. And I’m in love with you. — Daryl Gregory


by Daryl Gregory

This mischievous family saga (416 pages) was published in June of 2017 by Bond Street Books. The book takes you to 1990s and 1960s Chicago. Melissa read Spoonbenders and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Spoonbenders: A novel


Top image courtesy of Ken Mages/Unsplash.

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