Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historical | YA Fantasy
Anna Van Housen has a secret.
A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers 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 begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? 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, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.
I love the Roaring Twenties, this era is very pivotal on so many levels, social classes and women's roles are being redefined, the jazz age influenced and changed people's fashion and lifestyles, and more importantly, people developed a fascination for the occult and magic. Seances, fortune telling, and magic shows were popular and Harry Houdini became a household name. And it's in this era that Teri Brown's BORN OF ILLUSION is set.
BORN OF ILLUSION may be classified as YA but it didn't really give off that YA feel to me after reading it. In fact it felt more like Women's Fiction/Fantasy than juvenile fiction, emotionally adult and definitely devoid of tantrums thrown by Anna Van Housen which is probably why I ended up loving BORN OF ILLUSION. It's YA because it's clean and Anna's a teen, other than that, her life, challenges and relationships is something that a lot of readers can relate to.
The main theme of BORN OF ILLUSION is Anna's relationship with her mother, Marguerite. There's a lot of tension between these two because Marguerite comes off as a selfish, vain, and jealous mother and Anna's struggling because she's coming to her own and she needs her mother the most at this time. These two's relationship was the hook of the story, I was on Anna's side the whole time because I understand where she's coming from and Marguerite is easy to dislike because of the antics that she pulled. Between the two, Anna was the matured one while Marguerite is the opposite. Aside from her evolving relationship with Marguerite, Harry Houdini's in town and as Anna is allegedly the famous illusionist's daughter, she wants to know if there a grain of truth in that. So Anna in short is in some sort of a cusp in her life and she handled it quite well, she didn't do stupid things like put herself in a precarious situation nor crack under pressure and started acting like a brat.
Aside from the mystery involving Harry Houdini, someone's also out to get Anna to either exploit her or expose her scam with her mother. That part is well-written and I like how TBrown incorporated crazy psychics in that loop. Another good thing BORN OF ILLUSION has is the muted romance. YA is notorious for being romance driven and for some reason, teen love annoys me now. I guess I'm getting old LOL but it's the lack of teen romance that made BORN OF ILLUSION a winner for me.
This story arc was wrapped nicely opening a new story arc for Born of Deception. Based on my experience in this book and the premise for book 2, I will most definitely keep on reading the series. Anna's on the verge of something big and another great adventure is waiting for her in London so I surely want to read that.