Anna and her mother have moved around a lot for their stage show and seances when they finally settle in New York City in the 1920’s. While her mother, Marguerite, is a renowned medium who has hoodwinked many audiences all over, Anna’s trouble is keeping her natural gift and abilities a secret from her mom. Marguerite claims that Anna is the illegitimate daughter of Houdini and would do anything and everything to exploit Anna’s true talents if she knew about them. When Anna starts getting visions with increasing frequency, she befriends a new neighbour downstairs who introduces her to a whole other world she never knew about – a world where she can be taught to harness her powers.
1920’s New York? Good. Magic? Awesome. Mediums and seances? Wicked. This book was right up my alley with all of those elements infused into one story that definitely kept me guessing and wondering what was going on. Brown sets the stage (hah) on this traveling mother/daughter duo in a rather interestingly dysfunctional way. It’s not necessarily a new idea, to have a parental figure that’s akin to some stereotypical dance/pageant moms, and Marguerite is like a 1920’s version of that archetype. She is hungry for power and success and will do anything and exploit her own daughter if she could to become famous. While that dynamic was definitely irksome to read, it was quite well established to evoke those feelings. If Anna couldn’t even trust her own mom with what she is able to do, who can she trust?
Born of Illusion has a lot of intrigue and mystery, with even a hint of steampunk in my opinion. While it seems to have a nicely wrapped-up tied-with-a-bow kind of ending, it was still a quick and entertaining read that I thoroughly enjoyed. As much as I enjoyed it, I was actually hoping that this would be a standalone novel. For the most part, it can hold its own as a standalone, but the sequel – due out in 2014 – takes Anna across the seas over to London. That being said, if it will be anything like this first novel, I’m sure to pick up the sequel as well.