Book Review: Born of Illusion — by Teri Brown.
Sixteen-year-old Anna Van Housen has led an unusual life. She grew up in the circus, learning to be an expert in the art of magical illusion. Now she is her mother’s assistant in her stage show as a medium and mentalist, as well as at illegal, private séances. However, Anna has a secret that she dares not reveal, especially to her proud, manipulative mother: Anna really is psychic. She can sense others’ emotions, she has visions of the future that come true, and she really can see ghosts. When she keeps seeing a repeated vision of her mother kidnapped, Anna is terrified and doesn’t know what to do. Two handsome young men vie for her attention and claim to have the answers: the serious, mysterious Cole who won’t tell her what he knows but claims to have her best interests at heart, and the jolly Owen who promises to show her a good time in the glittering New York scene. Danger lurks at every corner, and Anna must decide to hone her powers and choose which man she will trust before it is too late.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are all really interesting, the plot intriguing, and the backdrop of 1920’s New York is full of elegant costumes, jazz music, and other luscious details that make the story vivid and memorable. The characters are all flawed, including Anna, which makes them more real. I loved the crotchety Mr. Darby, Anna’s elderly neighbor who becomes her friend. Anna’s problems with her mother reflect the common difficulties of a mother-teenage daughter relationship as well as the competition between them as two magicians. Marguerite loves Anna, but she is jealous of her, and she is afraid of being upstaged by her beautiful talented daughter. Anna loves her mother, but she doesn’t trust her (or the too-helpful Jacques). Anna can’t decide between her two suitors, mostly because she hasn’t had any experience with this kind of romantic attention, and she is flattered by it. She is haunted by her missing father, and she is determined to find out if her mother is telling the truth when she says he is the great Harry Houdini. Anna is afraid to use her powers. She thinks she wants a normal life, but something inside her cries out for the adulation from an audience wowed by a spectacular performance.
I loved Teri Brown’s website, and I look forward to reading her other books.