Anyway, here's the summary of Born of Illusion from Goodreads: Anna Van Housen has a secret. A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future. But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?
What I Liked: 1) Anna. Anna is one of those strong female characters that I really admire. She's spent most of her life taking care of her dramatic and flighty mother's whims. And while she manages to do that, and squirrel away money because her mother has some exorbitant spending habits, she also figures out how to have a life. She becomes both more trusting and more independent at the story continues, and I thought this kind of character development made it very easy to relate and enjoy her. 2) Cole. Mysterious and charming. What's not to like? There wasn't as much development of his personality in Born of Illusion as there was of Anna's, but he was still an easy character to like. My favorite part about him was how much he seemed to care about the people around him. 3) The setting. Maybe not the physical setting, but the fact that it was set in the 1920s, and that there were recognizable parts of 1920s history. This is where the details came into play. There were so many great details included in the book that it was easy to slip into the 1920s and just feel like you were living the story right alongside Anna and company. I love it when a story comes to life so vividly. 4) Harry Houdini. I've admit I know very little about him, other than the name. Though I've already decided I'm going to try and find a biography about him. But he was such a presence in the book (while actually showing up only rarely) that it was a great unifying force for the different story lines. Do y'all know anything about Harry Houdini? If I find a good bio, I'll definitely recommend it!
What I Didn't Like: Well, there was this whole...supernatural element to the book that felt as if it was supposed to be the main focus. But it really, really wasn't. I mean...it wasn't even necessary to the book. I personally think it would have been better without it. Once I finished the book I was actually kind of angry about it. I'm calmer now, I promise. But if that was the purpose behind the story, to look into this supernatural power, then the ending should have been way different. Just sayin'.
Overall Thoughts: With one glaring exception, I thoroughly enjoyed Born of Illusion. I firmly believe that the entire supernatural element could have been completely eliminated and the book would have been just as good. The details bring the 1920s setting to life and the characters are fun to follow along with. This is definitely a book to look into!
And as promised, an Anna Van Housen-inspired Flapper Halloween costume!
My Rating: 4 candy corns