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Born of Illusion Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 11, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062187546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062187543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Harry Houdini is Anna Van Housen’s father—at least that’s what her mother, Marguerite, has always told her. Mother and daughter have had a difficult, peripatetic life performing magic shows and conducting séances, but when they land in New York City, they find a stable home and increasing fame (even Vanderbilts attend their performances). For Marguerite, it’s a matter of being a good actress, but for 16-year-old Anna, there’s more to it than sleight of hand, as she truly feels and sees things that are inexplicable, adding excitement and danger to their shows and lives. Regardless of whether this ability is a matter of pedigree or coincidence, it makes her a person of interest to suave young men, dangerous kidnappers, and the real-life Society for Psychical Research. Yet despite these promising details, the story’s actual point is rather nebulous and blandly executed. Still, the 1920s elements of prohibition, automobiles, and cloche hats are interesting, and the timeless adolescent themes of self-definition, rebellion, and romance infuse the magic with a realism that may be comforting, if predictable. Grades 8-12. --Andrew Medlar


“Characterization is a strength in this first-person narrative, in which the setting, New York City in the 1920s, is so richly drawn as to become a character in itself …. Will appeal to fans of Libba Bray.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Anna’s strong personality and her complex relationship with her mother (who mixes love with professional jealousy), as well as a slightly supernatural romance, provide lots of teen appeal. ” (The Horn Book)

“Teri Brown creates a world of magic and deception, romance and intrigue. This book sparkles with dark arts.” (Melissa Walker, author of UNBREAK MY HEART and SMALL TOWN SINNERS)

“I suppose I could wax on about this book’s strengths—its magic, romance and exquisite historical detail—but the bottom line is: Teri Brown’s BORN OF ILLUSION is the most thoroughly enjoyable novel I’ve read all year.” (Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER)

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Customer Reviews

The book was good and I will def read the sequel, but I wont be excited for it like I was with this one.
V Heartstring (Atlas Deen)
Anna is the daughter of a "renowned" medium, supposedly the illegitimate daughter of Houdini, and a very good magician in her own right.
TammyJo Eckhart
Cole was just the kind of guy I thought he would be, but I felt like we get stringed a long a bit too long with him and his story.
Audra B

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Melanie on June 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
'I was thirteen the first time I broke my mother out of jail. After that it got easier, though I have to admit, even I had trouble getting the door unlocked whole hanging off the back of a paddy wagon. Is not an experience I wish to repeat.'

What a pleasant surprise historical fiction can be when executed beautifully. After the disappointments I've had lately in this genre, I was delighted to be once welcomed into an olden day New York world which reminded me greatly of Libba Bray's The Diviners. Born of Illusion was a strategically drawn novel with elements of suspense, magic and romance.

Anna Van Housen has been breaking her mother out of jail ever since the age of thirteen. Three years later, she travels along with her mother- reclaimed medium of the 1920's- performing séances and stage shows in front of all types of audiences alike. However, there are a few issues up Anna's sleeve. Especially now that something strange has stirred up in her ever since she met a young man. As Anna tries to hide her gift from her defiant mother, who holds a coldness between them, Anna comes to question everything she has ever been told. Was that young man- Cole- to have something to do with it? Someone is trying to catch Anna and her mother, but who?

Brown effortlessly creates loveable characters and unforgettable relationships throughout the entire story. I admired Anna's voice the most. Without a proper mother to aid her in more coming of age issues and basic skills, Anna comes out as understandable, confused and shaky. While this whole mystery- suspense beats through the novel, this is also about a girl adjusting in the adult world, growing and slowly covering up those blemishes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rejkyvik on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Born of Illusion is an historical fiction novel set around the time of Harry Houdini, and told from the perspective of a young stage magician/con woman. I was happy to read something that unique, and Teri Brown definitely did her research about the attitudes toward psychospirituality at that time.

I liked the first 75% of the book. The pacing was good, and I loved the ongoing tension between Anna and her mother. It's the kind of tension that can't be adequately resolved in the after-school-special trope of "oh, I just misunderstood my mom". Unfortunately, Teri Brown takes this tack, which feels like an easy way out, instead of really delving into the valid love-hate relationship there (which, incidentally, is not a problem that needs resolving but could be an ever-present lifelong tension that shapes the personality of Anna).

The other problem I had with the book was the romantic relationship. At first blush, it seemed like an interesting setup of "girl likes two boys" (yes, THAT overdone trope) but girl doesn't know how to trust and is trying to appear normal and therefore feels pressured to pick one boy. I especially liked the fact that both boys were decent, kind, attractive, and compelling. It felt like the beginnings of a potentially new trope, wherein perhaps the girl DOESN'T choose between the two boys, or finds out one is her relative, or something- anything- new. If you haven't already guessed from the tone of this paragraph....nothing new happened. One character was suddenly demonized, making the other character the only choice for Anna.

So if you LIKE formulaic YA, and historical fiction YA, this is a good airplane read. I appreciate the historic detail Teri Brown included, and the beginnings of originality in the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LookinG for Trouble VINE VOICE on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
1920s New York, a magical teenager, a plot, a dangerous mother, an occasional séance... what's not to like? This is a fun and entertaining read. Anna Van Housen, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini, according to her mother anyway, has spent her life traveling and performing with her mother, the medium Marguerite Van Housen.

Anna has never had a place to call home except for two much too brief circus years where she learned many of the tricks of her craft. But Anna is far more complicated than just her craft. She is also a sensitive who is approached by two different wings of a secret society that studies sensitives. This will lead her into trouble.

A fun read for a summer afternoon, Born of Illusion would appeal to and be appropriate to the preteen crowd.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K.Wagner VINE VOICE on August 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Full disclosure forces me to tell you two things before continuing with my review. First of all, I have always been an avid fan of Harry Houdini. I have read several books about his life, and his pursuit of fraudulent mediums, always.. I think, seeking out a truly gifted medium. Second this book was provided by Vine. This is a story about A teenager and her single mother. Her mother Marguerite Van Housen, is an actress, who plays the part of a mentalist in the 1920's. They have always managed to scrape by, but a new agent has enabled them to move to New York City and live a higher standard of life, and perform in higher quality theaters.

Anna is a talented assistant to her mother, and she is also quite a good magician and escape artist. In fact, she has been raised to believe that Harry Houdini is her father. She believes this, and is shocked to find out that at this time, he is also in New York City with his beloved wife Bess. Besides being a talented magician, Anna is also a gifted clairvoyant and clairsentient. Her new circle of friends included at least two others who sense this talent in young Anna. Suddenly, things begin to spin out of control, and even the very competent and mature Anna finds herself in difficult and dangerous situations. This is a very entertaining story, and I wil be interested in reading further in this series.

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