♦publisher: Balzer & Bray
♦release date: June 11th, 2013
♦hardcover, 384 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Born of Illusion, book 1
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?
Review: Born of Illusion was undoubtedly one of my most anticipated reads of 2013. The 1920s era setting, the promise of both stage magic and real magic, a volatile mother/daughter relationship, and a mystery involving the great Houdini himself ---the entire concept had me seriously pining for this! Happily, I report that I was not disappointed. Born of Illusion is a new favorite of mine.
Stories set in the 20s always seem to have such a grandeur about them. Whether it’s the bustling streets, the fancy cars, the glittery gowns…the whole era just seems to sparkle on the page. With Born of Illusion, that sparkle is amped up ten-fold by the addition of illusions and stage magic. Teri Brown perfectly describes every slight-of-hand so you can almost see it, right down to her protagonist’s wry smile when her tricks are pulled off to perfection.
Ann Van Housen was a fantastic character. Torn in so many directions: between wanting a normal life and her love for performing magic; between her wish to share her biggest secret with someone and the dire need to keep it safely hidden; and between her love and protectiveness for her attention-hungry mother and her greatest desire to be out from under her controlling, sometimes even cruel, thumb. Oh, and between two handsome, and very opposite, men. Owen is the life of the party, while Cole is quiet and mysterious (and British, extra points for that!). While the romance is a great part of the story, Anna’s relationships with everyone else were just as important to the story and fascinating to read---aside from the complicated dynamic between her and her mother, many new people come into her new life in New York and what she discovers more than anything is how much people can surprise you.
As much as this book stands strongly on it’s own, with a rich story full of magic, romance, secret societies, and a thrilling ending, I was completely overjoyed to find out that this will be a series. I am beyond excited at the idea of spending more time in the world of Born of Illusion!