[ARC Review] Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Title: Born of Illusion
Author: Teri Brown
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: ARC received from publisher for honest review

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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?

The 1920s era is a time in history that is so much fun to read. There is so much culture in that time period that is hard not to immerse yourself in the story, setting and of course the fashion! Born of Illusion was high on my list of books for read for the summer because it was set in 1920s New York and because the story had to do with clairvoyance and seances. This book was just as fantastic as I thought it would be.

Anna Van Housen was a great character to narrate this story because she was an outsider to the New York 1920s culture was much as we were, because she just moved there with her mother because of the police, and their interest in seances. And the fact that they are illegal was also a reason. But what I think I liked most about Anna was her undying loyalty. This turned out to be the one thing that led her stright towards trouble in the end but it was a characteristic you do not see very often anymore. And it was a very hard to read that loyalty, especially when it wasn't reciprocated.

Anna's mother was infuriating to read because of her attitude towards Anna's natural talent with magic and the fact that she didn't even notice that Anna was trying to build a long lasting relationship with her.  Anna's Mother was very self centered and pretty much cared only about their magic show and the fact that she was always to be the center of attention. But in the end it made for a very good conflict throughout the novel.

I also liked that the romance was secondary to Anna and her clairvoyance and magic. It was a refreshing change to the regular YA genre trope where it is all about the romance and when is is actually going to fall for her. I also loved the surprise at the end, even though I kind of saw it coming. But I found myself wanting to warn Anna about certain characters that I knew were shady but she didn't seem to notice. Overall the book lived up to all my expectations and it is a great spin on the 1920s culture with a mixture of mystery and great characters.

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