Monday, May 15, 2017

The Illusionist's Apprentice- Kristy Cambron

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Description: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

My Thoughts: To be upfront, I had not found the premise of this book to be all that interesting. The description made it fairly clear that actual illusions would play little part in the way the book was written and would instead be a backdrop to the rest of the plot. In that I was right. Though the reader is able to view a number of illusions throughout, the continued skepticism of the point of view characters takes away the grandeur of them. Even Wren, an illusionist by trade who should be fascinated by other people's work, instead seems to snidely remark on how none of it could possibly be real.

I understand this in someways, as the author obviously wishes to make her position on such matters clear. And she goes to great lengths to remind the reader that magic is not real and that mystics are nothing but frauds. Yet it causes me to question why the author wrote about vaudeville at all, if she had no intention of using the inherent smoke and mirrors to further draw the reader in.

Cambron has no issue with creating well developed worlds and characters. Wren's background is full of twists, which were well spread through the novel. However, for a story like this, there is a need for a twist in reality, at least so far as the reader understands it. Cambron attempted to capture that same level of mystery with the flow of the scenes and the way in which the characters interacted, and yet I don't believe that it succeeded.

At times, both Elliot and Wren were incredibly vague with their internal monologues, to where I was not sure what they were thinking. At others they seemed to contradict past information given to the reader or else reintroduce facts the reader is already aware of as though they were not.

I wish that I could have liked this book. I've read and enjoyed other novels by this author, as well as novels which dealt with illusion. However I cannot help but feel that Cambron's writing style is not suited to this subject matter. Though, that could be only my opinion.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through The Fiction Guild.

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