Born of Illusion by Terri Brown
Series: Born of Illusion #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on June 11, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First off, I adored the cover. It is so gorgeous I wanted to read it as soon as I saw it. I actually think that the cover is my favorite part of the whole book. It looks so… 1920’s-y. In case you didn’t know, I love the 20’s. They are my favorite time period and books written in them, like The Diviner’s by Libba Bray always have an edge for me. This book was not quite as seamless as The Diviners, but It was not awful either.
Plot Summary: Anna Van Housen is a magician, the daughter of Marguerite Van Housen, a medium, and Harry Houdini (at least that’s what her mother told her). Anna has been in her mother’s shadow her whole life, rescuing their scamming shows and helping her mother with seances to pay the bills, but little does her mother know that while her powers are fake, Anna’s are quite real. Anna has hidden her ability to sense emotions and see the future her whole life, but when a young man named Cole moves in on the floor below her’s and visits one of their seances, everything changes. Anna is inhabited by a ghost named Walter for the first time, meets another young man named Owen, and is invited to join a certain Dr. Bennett in his scientific experiments on sensitives (people who have powers like Anna). She is on the fence about joining Dr. Bennett’s experiments and several attempts are made to kidnap or hurt her. Cole gets closer to Anna and reveals that he is actually a conduit, or a person who can sense sensitives (pardon the pun) and amplify their powers. Cole helps Anna learn to controller powers. Anna and her mother are both eventually kidnaped by Owen, who is working for Dr. Bennett, who is actually a former member of a society that Cole now works for to help sensitives control their powers and discover why they have them. At the end of the book, Anna and her mother escape with Cole and Jaques’ (Marguerite’s manager and future husband) help. Anna receives an offer while she is on the mend from Harry Houdini. He wanted her to go on tour in Europe with his manager. She agrees also so she can be close to Cole once he goes to college.
Anna: Anna was an interesting character to me mainly because of her relationship with her mother (see below). Other than that, she was well, bland. She seemed weak, falling into Cole and Owen’s arms after anything bad happened to her, crying a lot, etc. I wish she had been a little bit stronger of a person. Anna also seemed too trusting of everyone. She didn’t have doubts about many people’s motives even when they ended up betraying her in the end. All in all, she just needed to grow up a little.
Marguerite: Wow. That’s all I have to say. Marguerite was wonderful as a secondary character. She probably was my favorite one out of the whole book. She was vain, proud, annoying, and just made you want to constantly slap her. She cared more about her stage presence than her daughter and more about looking authentic than what their budget allowed. She was an all out diva and I loved her. Of course at the end, she finally got a heart and wanted what was best for her daughter, but I liked the dramatic charlatan better. She was such a stark contrast to Anna.
Cole: Cole was also a bit bland for me. It didn’t take much to get him head over heels in love with Anna. I wish their romance could have been a bit more stretched out over a longer book rather than condensed into the measly 373 pages of Born of Illusion. If it had happened a bit slower, rather than me being able to tell that he was the main love interest in his first scene, I think that would have drastically improved the book. He was a bit overprotective and at some points, I couldn’t tell if he was following her around. He didn’t really seem very different from the other characters, considering he was British. In some books, you can definitely tell when a character is from England. If Teri Brown, hadn’t have told me he was European, I never would have guessed.
Owen: Why is it that Brown is so much better at writing the evil/bad characters. I thought that Owen was brilliant. He was clumsy and gawky. To be honest, the way he spoke seemed much more European that Cole. I never really wanted him to end up with Anna, but I kind of wish I had. It would have made the book so much more interesting for me if he had captured Anna’s heart, and then turned out to be evil, but you could always tell that she liked Cole better. The one thing that surprised me was that he was married, and to Mr. Darby’s maid no less.
Mr. Darby: Oh I LOVED him so much! Can I take him home with me please? He was like Belle’s (from Beauty and the Beast) father, the clumsy inventor that everyone loves. He was not a main character in the book, but I wish he ha been. He could have replaced Cole… nah, that would be weird, if he was twenty years younger maybe…
Cynthia: Why do you have to be so stupid Cynthia? Why? Were you dropped on the head as a baby? She annoyed me to the extreme. First off, she saw the seances and new church that she went to as fun and games. Second Anna was actually stupid enough to become friends with her. Third, when Anna asked for 5 thousand dollars, she didn’t even ask why before she agreed. I know that she is rich, but really Teri, not even a, “Why do you need the money anyways?” The only thing she actually asked was, “Do you want to talk about it?” and when Anna said no, she was absolutely fine. For all she knew, Anna could have been some elaborate con-woman bent on stealing her money. I mean really how stupid can one person be? So I hated Cynthia, but she needed to be there.
Jaques: I liked Jaques, but I kind of spent the whole book wondering if he was French or not. His name is French, but it never really specified.
Mr. Boyle: He was the typical evil character. I could tell he was villain at the beginning.
So all in all, it was a decent book, not amazing, but not awful either. It was a bit predictable, but if you want a good book about magic an the 1920’s this one is pretty decent. It’s great for a relatively new author, but The Diviner’s by Libba Bray is very similar, and much better. ~The Red Queen