Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Summary: 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?
Why I Loved It: I honestly thought the story was incredibly captivating. Anna, a sixteen-year-old, has being moving around with her mother her whole life. She's moved among performances and circuses and anywhere her mother could get a decent job. Her mother, Marguerite the "medium and mentalist" a.k.a. an amazing actress, has been shuffling her daughter around and depending on her to break her out of jail for a very long time. But now, due to a new manager that may not be all bad, Anna and her mother have come to New York and have their own show. Well Marguerite has a show. Heaven forbid the spotlight is ever stolen from her. Anna has spent her life running, but she's also spent her life hiding her secrets from her mother and the rest of the world. With more and more people beginning to enter her life, it just starts getting harder and harder to hide her secrets from everyone.
One of Anna's secrets, her ability to see the future in visions, plays a big role in the plot. Anna starts seeing visions of her mother in trouble, something that has never happened before. Anna never sees people she actually knows in her visions. So much of her time and attention begins to be poured into making sure her mother stays safe. That's a huge part of why I loved Anna. She is so relatable *despite the fact I've never been in her situation before* because she wants roots and a home. She's never had those things before. Factor in that she truly doesn't know who her father is, just that her mother claims the paternity belongs to the famous Harry Houdini. His parts in the book were definitely some of my favorites. Anyways, Anna is loyal and smart and immensely talented. She's also super street-smart and tough to the core. She was a character I loved getting to know.
Born of Illusion balances two things: the historical backdrop of the 20's and the world of the supernatural. I'm pretty sure the 20's are a popular time right now *especially with Gatsby in theaters* but I have always loved the time period with the speak and fashion and time in our US history. It's fascinating, and I feel that the book did the time period justice. Mix in the feelings of that time period with Anna's abilities with the supernatural and magic and illusion, and the book was given a whole new dimension of interesting. I felt that such was what captivated me.
Beginning to lay down roots, the relationships that Anna forms were fun to see develop. I will say that there is a bit of a love triangle in the book, but there really was no contest as to who was going to be chosen in the end. I throughly enjoyed the book, felt satisfied with the ending, and I think I would like to see what happens with the characters next.
Low Points: The love triangle. I totally could have done without this element. Then there was a tad bit of insta-love. I'm just not a fan of either of those elements in any book. The mother was a bit of a confusing character, but I don't know if I really liked how she was perceived in the end.
High Points: 1920's, Harry Houdini, magicians/illusions, and a super tough MC. My favorite character was also probably Mr. Darby, the gruff older man who lived downstairs.
Who Should Read It: I haven't really ever read a book like this before but I think if you like historical fiction like Water for Elephants or the idea of a past time backdrop like The Night Circus or perhaps you loved the The Diviners. You might want to check out the book.
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