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Review for Born Of Illusion (Born Of Illusion #1) by Teri Brown

Born of Illusion - Teri Brown

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

Anna Van Housen is a very gifted magician. She is the opening act for her mother's mentalist show, but sometimes she wishes she owned the stage. There is something amazing about being up there and causing people to gasp in wonder. Anna also has a little secret, she has a few unusual abilities. She can senses peoples emotions and see the future and keeping that information from everyone can be a bit tricky. Lately, her powers are getting stronger and she keeps seeing her doomed future loom before her eyes. Can she figure out who means her harm and save the day or is she cursed to live out her vision and perish?

Anna is amazing. She's clever and determined, but somehow manages to come off as completely vulnerable and maybe just a touch naive. For someone with the ability to sense people's emotions, not to mention the years of picking people out of the crowd for her tricks, she's still a bit blind to others. She completely misjudges several people and she doesn't see the bad guy coming until the very end, despite the mixed emotions she gets from him constantly. She is a completely interesting character and the question of is she or isn't she Houdini's daughter is one I was begging to be answered. There are so many clues leading either way and I WANT TO KNOW! I NEED TO KNOW!
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Besides the obvious mystery of who is out to get Anna, that's the biggest conundrum of this tale and, like I said, I need to know!
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You're not going to tell me, are you? Damn.

Cole, my dear sweet Cole, is so adorable cute that there aren't words to describe him. Maybe a GIF will help....
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See how cute that is? That's Cole. He's spent his childhood in a boarding school for boys and he's so easily embarrassed around Anna that I just want to hug him. It's clear from moment one that he is hiding something, but it's equally clear (at least to me) that it's not something malicious. He tells her quite frankly that they aren't his secrets to tell and that's the truth. He could have cleared a lot up if he had just let her read him so she could feel his honesty, but alas, things can never be that simple. I just loved how squeamish he was around her, how much he wanted to be around her, but he didn't know what to say or how to act and kept blushing over every fumble. Like I said, adorable.

There is also a host of well formed side characters, everyone from Marguerite (Anna's mother), to Cynthia (a soon-to-be friend of Anna's), to Houdini himself.  I especially loved Mr Darby, Cole's uncle.  He's that crotchety old man who seems mean, but is really a big softie.  I love (love love) him.  I wish he was real and would be my neighbor so I could harass him good-naturedly.   Cynthia surprised me a bit because I wasn't expecting her to become such a big part as she was.  I was expecting her to play her role in the beginning and then leave, but she doesn't.  She sticks around and becomes fast-friends with Anna.

The writing and world-building are just as amazing as the character development. I am not an aficionado of the Jazz Age, but I feel like Brown put a lot of research into making this world as realistic as possible and it shows. The language, the old words I knew anyway, felt spot on and authentic. There were even terms I'd never heard of before, such as four-flusher, that I enjoyed learning about. The plot was a bit predictable to me, but it was predictable in that way that I'm not sure if everyone will find it predictable. I saw several twists coming and I faintly suspected who would be the villian early on.****SPOILER****I knew the minute the cleaning woman for Mr Darby didn't show up that she was in on the scheme, that she was the woman's voice Anna recognized. As soon as the love-triangle angle started up, I was sure that Anna would end up with Cole and I thought maybe Owen would be a bad guy, so I was pretty accurate there.****END SPOILER****

I have been dying to read this for quite a while. Both the title and the cover have called my name. Normally covers with chick's faces on the cover are a bit overdone, but the contrast here is just so striking that the result is lovely. And the book is just as good as the gorgeous cover promises.  I think everyone who enjoys historical YA or mystery YA or just a good novel that's a bit different than what you were expecting will love this.  It's blessedly cliffhanger free and that just makes me want the next one more!

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