Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

ARC Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

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Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1)
 by: Teri Brown

Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC received from Edelweiss and publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review
Page Count: 384 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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?
                                                  -goodreads.com description

I am so beyond disappointed in this book! I read the synopsis and fell in love! Magic, love, intrigue? Set in the 1900's? I was SO in! Unfortunately this book did not live up to my expectations.

The first issue I had was the pacing. I was interested in getting to know Anna and her lifestyle as a magician working with her 'mentalist/medium' mother in a stage show. I was also interested in meeting all the secondary characters. But once that all happened, the book just kept dragging its feet and was very slow going. It wasn't until the last part of the book where the action actually picked up and even then it was a bit anti-climactic because you can see what direction its going to take.

Secondly, I took issues with the characterization. I liked Anna well enough but I didn't form any kind of attachment to my characters. They were just kind of... there. Anna is a talented magician who doesn't have the best relationship with her mother. Her mother is very much in charge and does not want Anna stealing the limelight from her. In fact, her mom kind of reminded me of Cinderella's step-mother, with Anna always taking care of her and so forth. She just wasn't a very motherly character and the way she treated Anna really bothered me. You see some of her reasons at the end, but it still doesn't eliminate the pettiness.

The romance was quite bland if you ask me. And there was an attempt at a love triangle, that I did not feel worked at all. One minute Anna would have feelings for one guy and the next she'd be questioning his every motive and what he was hiding. Then guy #2 enters the picture and drove me freaking crazy with his over exaggeration and 'showy' personality. And yet she fell for that! At least our first interest, while having secrets, actually expressed a true interest in her and seemed a bit more genuine in his affections, not 'falling to his knees on the ground with a single rose in his hand'.

Finally, I had plot issues. I just felt like something was lacking in this book. Again, I think with the combination of the pacing and the characterization, the plot just fell short. It was a bit too predictable for my tastes and I ended the book kind of thinking, "That's it?" There are also scenes that I felt weren't finished or explained. I know this is the first in a series, but those scenes should have been wrapped up in this book, because I know they won't have anything to do with the next.

I did like Anna's interactions with Mr. Darby, her neighbor downstairs, as well as with Houdini. Those scenes definitely perked the book up a bit. Mr. Darby is a crotchety old man at first glance, but really is an inventor, who ended up warming up to her and helping her out later on in the book. Houdini as you all know, is a very famous magician, but I won't give away how he relates to this story.

I also liked the historical aspect. I liked reading about the types of dresses Anna and her mom would wear, I liked the going out to the theater and learning about the magic shows. So those were all positives for me.

Overall, unfortunately, while there were some aspects I did like, for the most part this was a miss for me.

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  1. This book really sounds disappointing. I can't stand when a book has that many issues with it. Too bad it didn't start getting better until the end. I loved reading your review though. It is so thorough! I can see the teacher in your writing!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    1. LOL, thanks Lindy! I always wonder if I'm being thorough enough, so that's a huge compliment for me! :D I was so bummed about this one because the idea sounded so neat.

  2. Such a shame! It sounds so good but there's nothing worse than a book that drags!

  3. I DNF this one, It was slow and boring and I didn't really care for the characters. Very disappointing...

    1. I can't say I blame you at all! I forced myself through, but was really bummed.


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