Introducing The Shoemaker’s Magician, Cynthia Pelayo’s Follow-Up to Children of Chicago

We’re thrilled to reveal the cover of The Shoemaker’s Magician by Cynthia Pelayo, the second book in the Chicago Saga that started with Children of Chicago, coming February 14th, 2023 from Agora Books.


A fabled lost movie. An increasing body count. How much do you risk for art?

Paloma has been watching the Grand Vespertilio Show her entire life. Grand, America’s most beloved horror host showcases classic, low-budget and cult horror movies with a flourish, wearing his black tuxedo and hat, but Paloma has noticed something strange about Grand, stranger than his dark make-up and Gothic television set.

After Paloma’s husband, a homicide detective, discovers an obscure movie poster pinned on a mutilated corpse on stage at the Chicago Theater, she knows that the only person that can help solve this mystery is Grand. When another body appears at an abandoned historic movie palace the deaths prove to be connected to a silent film, lost to the ages, but somehow at the center of countless tragedies in Chicago.

The closer Paloma gets to Grand she discovers that his reach is far greater than her first love, horror movies, and even this film. And she soon becomes trapped between protecting a silent movie that’s contributed to so much death in her city and the life of her young son.


Here to introduce the cover is the author herself, Cina Pelayo:

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and at one point, every neighborhood had its own movie theater. Many of these movie theaters were positioned as movie palaces, due to their massive size and detailed interiors with opulent finishes. Just think of marble floors, grand staircases, massive sparkling chandeliers, and those heavy red velvet curtains welcoming you to the show.

The history of Chicago is forever entwined with the history of cinema. Chicago was Hollywood, before there was a proper Hollywood. The city of Chicago lead motion picture productions in the early 1900s making it the silent film movie making capital of the world. Beyond being a major producer of silent film at the time, Chicago also had more movie theaters at one point than any other city in the country, as it was home to the largest theater chain, Balaban and Katz who specialized in luxurious surroundings, including incorporating the recent technology and comforts of the era. 

Chicago is the stage.

Chicago is the movies. 

Chicago was then and is now magic.

Multiple production companies were based in Chicago, including Essanay Studios and Selig Polyscope Company. Movie sets spanned city blocks, and iconic actors like Charlie Chaplin even worked here for a time. The first production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was in fact not the 1939 film most of us are familiar with, starring Judy Garland, but a thirteen-minute black and white silent film shot in Chicago in 1910.

Across the city, patrons packed into movie palaces where they gazed upon a giant silver screen in lavish surroundings. In Chicago, people attended one of the now historic movie palaces like the Congress, Oriental, Riviera, or Uptown so that they could, for a short while, be consumed by magic.

And that is what that proscenium arch, that stage, promises – to distort our reality, to grant us magic and wonder. The stage is a separate dimension in a way, separating the viewers from the performance. In that space we know that physical reality is distorted by what is playing out on the stage or on the screen. 

It’s fitting then that this American city that sprouted from a prairie, and that rose from the ashes of the great Chicago fire has been foundational in bringing magic to all of us via the stage and screen. 

The wondrous American theater, from vaudeville, the nickelodeons, to the grand movie palaces have promised generations an escape, and in many ways hope. 

The silver screen makes us believe, if even for a little while, that true wonder exists out there. I hope then that The Shoemaker’s Magician proves to all of us that the stage is magic and that magic is real. 


Preorder The Shoemaker’s Magician now:
Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

CYNTHIA “CINA” PELAYO is an International Latino Book Award winning and three-time Bram Stoker Awards® nominated poet and author.

She is the author of LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, THE MISSING, and POEMS OF MY NIGHT, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. POEMS OF MY NIGHT was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States, and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and Elgin Award. Her modern day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO was released by Agora / Polis Books, and won an International Latino Book Award for Best Mystery (2021).

Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she still lives.

Find her online at www.cinapelayo.com and on Twitter @cinapelayo.



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