Thursday, May 23, 2013

Born Of Illusion by Teri Brown

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Release Date – June 11, 2013
Publisher Website -  Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader  
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating- 3.5/5
**obtained for review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?
I've always been fascinated by magic and magicians. Combine this with a 1920's setting and I knew I had to read this one. Teri Brown delivers a novel filled with magicians, real magic, and heart pounding danger. 

The relationship between Anna and her mother Marguerite was intriguing. You never really knew what her mother was thinking, or what genuine emotions she may have for her daughter. Their relationship was flawed, and at times felt competitive (especially from Marguerite's end). It all comes together, but seeing their interaction was one of my favourite parts of the story. It was obvious that Anna had a rather unique upbringing and often resented being in her mother's shadow.

Tying into the mother daughter dynamic was Anna's own 'growing up'. She was starting to distance herself, having her own opinions, and want to live her life the way she wanted. Teens can identify with this, as part of your teen years is finding yourself, defining what's important to you, and testing how you feel about things and  going out into the world. It was nice to see this tied into an imperfect relationship like Anna and Marguerite's was.

I felt the historical aspect of the novel wasn't as developed as I hoped in some aspects, but was well researched in others. The setting and tone didn't pull from the 1920's as much as I anticipated. However, I felt the other elements more than made up for this.. The research that was done was effectively used and sent me off on a Googling spree after. I wanted to know, especially about Houdini. Houdini's background is especially present, and she used events in his life to attach parts of the story to. It lent a credible tone to the novel.

The magic elements were exactly what I wanted them to be. Nothing too flashy or over the top. Mixing it with a scientific storyline made it feel plausible, and was a nod to the experiments that would have taken place around this time. Who hasn't seen the old video footage of people guessing cards behind a screen? This allowed the magic to immerse itself in the story, even as the story revolves around it.

The big question of Anna's parentage, and whether or not she is Houdini's daughter was one of my favourite parts of the novel. Seeing her curiosity about him, and their possible connection was intriguing. Every time they connected on some level left me wanting more. The ultimate question is whether or not it matters who her father is, and the answer is that it doesn't. Do we get an concrete answer either way? All I will say is that I was completely satisfied with the outcome.

As much as I loved the beginning of the novel, I do have to admit that it lost a little steam in the latter half. The ending didn't have the same impact, for me, that the beginning did. It was what I expected from about half way through the novel, and was satisfactory ending, but not as gripping as the beginning.

A novel that casts a dangerous and romantic spell. I quickly fell into Anna's story. If seductive magic, 1920's allure, and a quick moving plot are things you enjoy in a novel, be sure to pick this one up.

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