I received this book for free from ARC in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Anna Van Housen Has A Secret.
A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and seances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini - or so Marguerite claims - 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. Because while Marguerite's own powers may be a sham, Anna actually can sense people's feelings and foretell the future.
But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions that lead her to explore the abilities she's tried so long to hide. And when an enigmatic 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.
From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, with the temptations of Jazz Age New York - and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.
I had such hope for Born of Illusion! With its interesting and unique premise and it’s drool worthy cover! Add in the fact that this book is set in the roaring 20’s and it should have been an easily enjoyable read. But it wasn’t. And I’m so lost on how a story with so much potential, good writing and ok characters, went so astray for me. I’m not saying the book didn’t have its high points, I loved a few aspects of it, but I felt that the pace was too slow, and the “mystery” was nothing I didn’t figure out at the 160 page mark.
Anna, our MC and the alleged bastard child of Harry Houdini himself, and her mother have finally started to settle down. They have a successful show going and things are just starting to look up, in Anna’s mind. Show? Oh, Anna’s mom is a “medium” and Anna is a magician. See that right there should have solidified the fact that this book would be awesome! Who cares if Anna’s mom is a fraud, and a swindler! That should have just added to the greatness! But even these cool and unique character traits weren’t enough to excite me. Then Brown through in an awkward, there but not really there love triangle and I about gave up. How is it even possible to have a love triangle when there are barely any romantic feelings for one of the people involved in said triangle? I get being young and wanting to have a little fun, but there is a difference between getting your feet wet and KNOWING that there are no romantic feelings for the person you’re hanging out with.
And something else that left me utterly disappointed was the Harry Houdini aspect. I’m not a huge magician fan but every living person knows who Harry Houdini is. I didn’t expect him to have a huge presence in the book, but the two times we did see him, it only brought up more questions and no answers? And yeah I know this is the first book in the series, and I understand that there is some build up involved but COME ON! What was the point of even giving him the occasional voice if we never really knew who he was?
But that’s ok, fine whatever I’ll live. What really landed the final “I’m so disappointed” blow was the mystery. I’m not much of a mystery reader because I always figure it out ages before the characters do. But I had hope that Anna, would not be so dense. She swindles people for a living! How could she not see the obvious signs of someone who was trying to swindle her? This was what finally did it for me. Not the sub par romance, or the mediocre build up (only to be let down), or even the flat characters. It was the fact that a person who lies and cheats and steals for a living couldn’t tell when those fates were knocking on her door.