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Monday, July 8, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Title: Born of Illusion
Author: Teri Brown
Format Acquired: Paperback 
Publication Date: June 11 2013
Publishing House: Balzer & Bray
ISBN: 9780062277206
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium, Margeruite 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 can actually sense people's feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions that lead her to expore 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.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


As Born of Illusion was featured in one of our Waiting on Wednesdays, there's really no doubt that I'd pick it up the moment it was available in local bookstores here. Moments later - meaning the instant I got into the car - I dove into the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age New York and I never wanted to leave.

Anna Van Housen is a gifted illusionist who assists her mother, a fraudulent medium, in her shows. She's not exactly happy with these seances but entertaining the rich, bored and beautiful New York socialites was the only way they had to earn money. But recently Anna has been having very troubling and repetitive visions, something which has never happened to her before. These visions oddly enough seem to coincide with the time Cole - tall, dark and handsome - moves into the same apartment building as her. Something's just not right and when Anna finds out that there's a society that studies people with her abilities, well she's not about to pass up on the chance to figure out her powers and maybe in the process, learn more about herself.

Anna is a delightful and compelling character. While her mother is undeniably the star of their show, it's Anna who has strange powers. She sees visions of the future and has unnatural emphatic abilities. Have I mentioned that she is also the supposed illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini? Intriguing. Living under the shadow of her glamorous and gorgeous mother, Anna wants something more from her life and when she meets Cole she starts wondering if she's capable of changing the course of her life. 

Born of Illusion is wonderfully atmospheric and I just loved the attention to detail the author paid this historical setting. It was of the utmost ease that I imagined the women dripping in diamonds and pearls, the rich and the bored uppercrust socialites tossing away money to entertain themselves and the underground world of magic that Anna expertly navigates. It's not hard to fall in love with a book flush with beautiful descriptions and told in the voice of a rather fascinating heroine.

Although I will admit that I was surprised by the ending. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe something grander or more opulent, something that would befit a very talented illusionist such as Anna but I wasn't disappointed by it, not in the least.

This is one book that I suggest you pick up. Historical New York, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini and lots of magic and illusion. What's not to love? 



  1. I was supposed to read this before but I got sidetracked. But now your review just convinced me to move it up. Great review!

    1. Thanks Dianne! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. :>