63. Illusion by Stephanie Elmas

I found this on Kindle under the ‘recommended for you’ tab. I had to take the picture under my desk at work (the only place I could picture it without getting a reflection on the screen.) Illusion became a hidden gem for me, a story I wouldn’t have read otherwise and I’m so glad I did read it.

Synopsis (as taken from Amazon Kindle Store) is as follows:

London, 1873.

Returning home from his travels across the globe, Walter Balanchine is noted for the charms, potions and locket hanging from his neck. Living in a cemetery with his pet panther, Sinbad, word soon spreads of his healing and magical abilities and Walter becomes a sought after party performer.

But a powerful force lies behind the parlour tricks, one strong enough to reveal secrets, heal the sick, and destroy the wicked…

Ability to read – I didn’t find this book difficult to read, I found it easy to get into and easy going in its flow and plot. Sometimes I find stories set in the past difficult to read because of the difference in language used but here I didn’t have any problem. I felt the world come alight under the words I was reading and I understood what I was supposed to understand and held curiosity for the parts that were shrouded in mystery.

Characterisation – Tom and Walter were the perfect duo to carry out this ambitious plot. Tamara was the cherry on the top of the already complicated sundae. As shrouded in mystery Walter was, I still had a burning desire to know him and despite his appearance of the fact that he’d been shunned through his life, I understood what kind of character he was and knew that he was someone whose story needed to be told. Tom reminded me so much of the characters you associate with the Victorian Era, he was hopeful, imaginative, determined, careful, lost…an underdog. Between the two of them the story flowed uniquely between them and gave glimpses into the lives of both of them in a way that made it interesting and mysterious. Tamara got the short end of the deal but her story is also compelling and becomes what ties all the parts together. Tamara has a backbone but it takes her a while to use it and I think that made me more intent on standing with her and pushing forward her story. The characters all had their own individual voices and definitely had voices that you could pick out from a crowd. I found myself falling for these characters and their story lingered on with me for many days after I read this book.

Visualisation – I had no trouble visualising what was happening here. I think my imagination took on the full force of London in 1873, the smog and fog, the poor and the needy, the rich and the snob, the destitution, the danger and the hope of a new life. What I created in my mind was heavily influenced by what I was reading mixed with every Victorian reference I had on hand. I could clearly see the scenes as they changed and anticipate what the character’s next moves would be. I enjoyed the descriptions and details within this book, as they helped to create a vivid visual and took me further into the book.

Uniqueness – I haven’t read any books regarding illusion. The closest I can get is probably a Fae book I read about 10 years ago (the name of which I have forgotten.) I picked this book to read because the synopsis sounded so interesting and I was captivated by the front cover. I thought this book was very compelling and very deep in the way it made me think. I have such compassion for the three main characters that at times I felt my heart weeping as I read. I found this book to be rather unique in that I haven’t read anything close to similar to it before. The plot was an intricate web of channels and I enjoyed not knowing what was going to happen next. I thought the magic was different and woven with the same mystery as the characters involved. This was definitely a book that kept me guessing until the last page. I enjoyed this book so much that I now want to buy it in paperback!

Hannah xoxo

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