Saturday, July 13, 2013

REVIEW: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Title: Born of Illusion
Author: Teri Brown Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Pages: 384
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: ANNA VAN HOUSEN HAS A SECRET.

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage shows and seances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. For Anna, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini - or so Marguerite claims - handcuffs and sleight-of-hand illusions have never been much of a challenge. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her mother: because while Marguerite's power may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people's feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions of her mother in peril, which lead her to explore the abilities she's tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a society that studies people with gifts like hers, she begins to wonder if there's more to life than keeping secrets.

As her visions become darker and her powers spin out of her control, Anna is forced to rethink all she's ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna's visions merely illusions? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite's tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, with the temptations of Jazz Age New York --- and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

First Thoughts: Loved it! Loved the setting, loved the characters, and especially loved the magic! I felt a little let down by the ending, but other than that, this is one of my favorite books of the summer.

It’s official - I LOVE magic! I’m not sure when or how this happened, but I am enthralled by all things magical. This book sealed the deal! It actually kind of reminded me of a young adult version of Night Circus, which I also loved.

Reason #1 why I loved this book: the historical fiction aspect. I’ve never sought out historical fiction books, but every time I read one, I really enjoy it. Apparently, right now, the new trend is the 1920s (perhaps the current popularity of Gatsby plays a role), which I loved in In the Shadow of the Blackbirds as well. Teri Brown does a wonderful job of placing the reader back in time: the flappers, prohibition, speakeasies - they are all beautifully described. It’s clear she researched New York during this time period, and yet her descriptions come off as effortless. As the reader, I really felt like I lived through this time period right alongside Anna - love!

Reason #2 why I loved this book: the magic. As I already said, I apparently have some new affinity for all things magical. I discovered this passion while reading Night Circus last year for book club. There’s just something so believeable about the unbelievable. When I stop to think about it in pieces - Anna speaking to the dead, reading people’s minds, viewing visions of the future - it almost seems ridiculous. Yet, in the book, it’s completely believable; why can’t magic exist? I guess I’ve never stopped to think about it, but I am a believer.

Reason #3 why I loved this book: the characters...duh. Anna was perfect! As a reader I like to connect to characters - cheer for them, feel with them, and even get annoyed at them.  Done, done and done. Anna is flawed, which I love. Sure she’s the heroine/protagonist, but some of her decisions infuriated me. I found myself setting the book down to let my anger subside before continuing on. I also found myself closing the cover to smile at her conflicted feelings about Cole. Oh, and Cole. I can’t help but love a conflicted, socially awkward boy. As a confessed Pride and Prejudice lover, Cole was very Darcy-like...swoon.

The reason why this wasn’t a 5 star read for me - the ending. It’s not that I didn’t like how the story ended, I just felt like Brown rushed it. The whole story was so beautifully built up and written, and then the end just seemed to happen so quickly. It didn’t seem like a fair ending to such a fantastic book.

Final Thoughts: The more I sit and think about this book, the more I really enjoyed it. In fact, I’m still thinking about it after finishing two books after it - that’s the true test of a great book. Although series are starting to wear on me, I am definitely adding the sequel - Born of Deception - to my TBR list when it comes out next year.

Who Should Read It? Even though this book is about magic and the spiritual world, I think it appeals more widely than that. If you like historical fiction, fantasy (a little bit), realistic fiction (even though it’s not), romance, and/or mystery, I highly suggest you give this book a shot. It may lean a little bit more towards girls, but I think it has some universal appeal.

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