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Book Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Born of Illusion is a strong debut into the topsy turvy world of magical illusions, daring feats and seances in 1900s NYC. I loved the premise and the mystery and the struggles. Highly recommended.

Book Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

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born of illusion teri brown book review

Title & Author: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Genre: YA Fantasy – Magic, Historical Fantasy

Release Date: June 11, 2013

Series: #3 Born of Illusion

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

How I Got the Book: Bought


“Anna Van Housen helps her medium mother Margeurite do stage shows and seances in 1920s New York. Possibly Houdini’s daughter, she can sense feelings and see the future. Frightening visions show her mother in peril. New downstairs neighbor Cole introduces her to a society that studies people with gifts like hers. Sorting truth from illusion yields her destiny.”

Born of Illusion Hypnotizes

Born of Illusion reminded me a lot of the movies The Illusionist and The Prestige, which I loved! The story is set in New York City during the 1920s, and I was immediately immersed in the flapper drop-waist dresses and fashionable cloche hats. There is so much to love about Born of Illusion – I am a total fan.

Anna Van Housen and her mother recently moved to the big apple after being run out of several cities. Their crime? Performing seances and practicing occult arts. But, do they stop? No, of course not. Anna’s mother has a new show in the city, and Anna is doing everything she can to protect her them from being arrested or exiled.

Another little “problem” Anna has is that although her mother is a charlatan who preys on the weak, Anna has real, unnatural abilities. In addition to being a whiz at getting out of handcuffs and performing artful sleight of hand, Anna can read people’s emotions through touch. She’s hidden her abilities even from her mother, who would use her to skyrocket their career.

So, when Anna meets her new downstairs neighbor, Cole, she’s suspicious of his attention to her and wonders if he can be trusted. He’s super cute, so that doesn’t help her thought processes, of course.

What is fascinating about Born of Illusion is Anna’s relationship with her mom. Her mom is super manipulative, and Anna can tell from her emotions that she will do anything to prevent Anna from taking over the show. They have a strange love/hate relationship that I found authentic – it’s the classic struggle of fighting the bonds that are keeping you a child instead of a budding adult.

Although Anna’s mom is not a loveable character in the least, you can understand Anna’s desire to love and protect her while also trying to avoid becoming anything like her.

Now You See Me…

Brown does a great job of keeping readers on their toes. So many things about so many characters shifts and changes to where you’re second guessing everything and everyone. Which is the point because that’s exactly how Anna feels.

And, I just loved Anna – she is like so many YA book characters with powers. She wants a normal life but can’t seem to escape her crazy circumstances. Plus, there’s the mystery of her father. Who is he? Is her mother lying when she claims her real father is Harry Houdini? Will Anna every really know?!

I think more of these questions will be answered in the second book, Born of Deception, out next in 2014.


The authentic magic tricks and the more supernatural abilities showcased in this debut book had me enchanted. I loved the whimsical setting, the challenging relationships and Anna’s search to find out who she is and what she can do. Born of Illusion is definitely a top read of 2013 – go read it now!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.