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I Belong

Early Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Title: Born of Illusion

Author: Teri Brown

GenreYA Historical Fiction

SeriesBorn of Illusion (Book 1)

Publication DateJune 11, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-100062187546 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062187543 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Bridget


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?

Quick & Dirty: This was a beautifully weaved story of life in the 1920’s.  It is filled with magic, mystery, romance, and leaves you completely spellbound!

Opening Sentence: The hair on the back of my neck prickles even before I spot him rounding the corner ahead.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

Anna Van Housen is a 16 year old girl living in the New York City in the roaring twenties.  She is an assistant to her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen.  Magic runs in Anna’s blood and she has always felt a joy whenever she gets to perform magic in front of an audience.  Her life has been a great mixture of living and performing in the circus, traveling, breaking her mother out of jail, swindling people, but now they have finally settled in one place and Anna hopes that it will be permanent.  Anna has other talents besides creating amazing illusions, she also can read other people’s emotions and she has visions of the future.  She is supposedly the illegitimate daughter of the infamous Harry Houdini, and she can’t help but wonder if her special abilities come from her father.

While trying to adjust to their new surroundings, a new mysterious young man moves into the flat downstairs.  Cole is a strange, serious person and Anna finds that she can’t read him like she can most people.  There is something about Cole that perks Anna’s interest and he seems to know more about her secrets than she wants.  Cole introduces her to a life she never knew existed, are there really others like her out there?  Can she really learn to control her powers and finally be able to live the life she has always wanted?

I completely adored Anna.  She is a young magician with real magical powers.  She has had a tough life moving all over and never really having a stable home.  Her relationship with her mother has always been a competition.  Anna truly loves her mother and wants to protect her, but she can’t help but feel that her mother would do anything to always be the center of attention.  She knows that her mother cares about her, but she wonders if there is always an underlying reason for everything her mother does.  The world of dating is also knew to Anna and we get to see her make mistakes and try to figure out what her heart truly wants.  Anna was a very strong protagonist and I honestly can’t wait to see what is in store for her next.

Coal is the studious, broody, good looking guy that you just can’t help but swoon over.  From the first moment I met Coal I was totally captivated by him.  He is such a mystery and in the end he is actually really shy and unsure of himself.  I loved the slowly developed relationship between Coal and Anna.  They have some awkward moments as they get to know each other and it is so cute.  Coal is a character that I couldn’t help but fall in love with and I am eager to read more of him in book 2.

I loved this book.  The story was so unique and different from anything else I have ever read.  I loved the magical aspect of story as well as the wonderful mystery.  The plot was full of surprises and kept me very intrigued the whole way through.  I loved that it takes place in New York City during the prohibition; it added an air of mystery to the story.  I loved the characters, and the romance.  They were written perfectly.  I definitely can’t wait to read the next installment in this series. Also, I just have to say that I think the cover of this book is just gorgeous and it fits the book perfectly.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone that loves magical illusions, or historical romance novels.

Notable Scene:

Usually, the first emotion I sense while doing this particular trick is excitement at being chosen, quickly followed by doubt that I can really do it. This man—for it is a man’s arm I feel under my fingers—is different. He’s intensely curious about me. I sense a barely concealed anticipation. There’s also a low buzz of suppressed energy coming from him, as if he’s thrown up a dam that is barely holding. I’ve never felt anything like it. Puzzled, I let him lead me through the theater, trying to pick up on his other emotions. Normally, the guide becomes a bit agitated as we near the needle, but that doesn’t happen tonight. He seems calm, patient. But there’s also something else. An emotion I can’t quite identify. Panic assaults me and my heart accelerates. Surely it’s been too long! Will I just wander around the plush aisles of the theater until the audience realizes I’ve failed?

I probe again, my hand tightening on his arm, and beads of sweat break out on my upper lip. Then it flashes over me as clearly as if he’s whispered it. I stop short, a sly smile coming to my lips. “Tricky!” I say, projecting so everyone can hear me. “The gentleman hid two pins! One over there,” I point vaguely toward the center of the theater, “and one in his pocket. The one in his pocket is the one I was looking for. The other is a decoy!”

Laughing, I whip off my blindfold.

And stare straight into Colin Archer’s handsome face.

Born of Illusion Series:

1. Born of Illusion (June 11, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Born of Illusion. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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