Review: Born Of Illusion (Born Of Illusion #1) – Teri Brown

Release Date: June 11th 2013
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 373
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: 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?

Review: Anna Van Housen is the daughter of the famous medium Marguerite Van Housen and apparently the illegitimate daughter of magician Harry Houdini. Anna and Marguerite make a living performing shows where Anna shows off her magic and illusion skills and Marguerite performs a mentalist act. The only difference is, that her mother is nothing more than a sham, and Anna has more skill than she lets on, having psychic powers of her own.

Scared and unsure of what her abilities actually are, Anna meets Cole, who tries to help her understand the extent of what she is able to do, and to help her get these abilities under control. But there’s also another man on the scene when Anna meets charming Owen, who tries to sweep Anna off her feet. Two suitors – Anna has to make a choice.

And then there’s the reoccuring visions that Anna keeps having about her mother in serious trouble, being hurt by someone she can’t identify. Who is coming after her and her mother?

Firstly, won’t lie. The cover of this book pulled me in. I love everything about it. The font, the imagery on the cover, the contrasting colours… I love it all. It’s what drew me in, and I am happy about that because I quite liked this book.

The most notable thing about this is the setting of this book. 1920’s New York. Very much set in the underground world filled with magic, magicians, mentalists, psychics, seances and scammers. I have always had a real soft spot for the 1920s. The days of speakeasys, prohibition and speakeasys combined with the mysterious underworld elements was fantastic. I felt like the world building itself was done really well, and without actually spelling out that we were in the 20s, you just knew. Anna had premonitions of Titanic as a child, and of course she’s been told by her mother that her father is Harry Houdini himself, so it gives us a good idea of the times.

I generally liked the characters, although I had issues with a couple of them. Namely, Marguerite and Owen. I felt Anna’s mother was extremely childish at times with her jealousy over Anna’s talents. And whilst I feel like this was not done in error, but rather by design, I struggled at times with the relationship between her and Anna. I just wanted to reach out and shake Marguerite and put some sense into her. And since I feel this is the way her character is meant to be, then I should probably congratulate Teri Brown for making me feel these things. Owen I struggled with straight away. I felt he was too polished, and sleazy. Again – by design. But I was frustrated early on when Anna couldn’t see what I was seeing.. wake up girl. haha

Overall, I am actually going to say that this book was a little predictable at times – I had figured the punch line of the story out about half way through reading this book, but despite this, I still found myself entertained as it all unfolded. I would have rated this book higher if the actual storyline was a bit more complex and hard to guess. I still rate this 3.5 out of 5 just because there was a lot in this book that I really did like. I am intrigued to know that this is the first book in a series and so I am interested to see what the second book will bring!

Quotes:

“The audience oohs and ahhs in all the right places and my movements get more dramatic as I warm up. Enthralling the audience is the best part, the part I love. I hate when people call magic trickery. What my mother does is trickery. What I do is entertainment.”

“My mother says I’m a show-off, but I prefer to think of myself as a performer.”

“You’re quite good–for a girl.” “Thank you,” I tell him, ignoring the girl remark. If I argued with every male magician who made a snide comment about my gender, I’d never have the time to do magic. I prefer to outperform them on stage, where it really matters.”

“My own anticipation is thrumming in my chest, but I try not to show it. I’ve never told her how much I love performing illusions, even tired old magic tricks. It’s a secret I hold close to my heart, half afraid it’ll be taken away from me if revealed.”

What do you think?

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