Born of Illusion

Born of Illusion

by Teri Brown


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For fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, this thrilling historical suspense novel is the story of a budding magician who has spent her life playing sidekick to her faux-medium mother—and trying to hide the fact that she possesses magnificent powers.

As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so her mother claims—gifted illusionist Anna Van Housen easily navigates the underground world of magicians and mediums in 1920s New York, though the real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions that lead her to explore the powers she's tried so long to hide.

Lovers of historical fiction and stories filled with romance and intrigue will fall for Born of Illusion and its whip-smart, savvy protagonist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062187550
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/22/2014
Series: Born of Illusion Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 783,294
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Teri Brown is most proud of her children, but coming in a close second is the fact that she jumped out of an airplane and beat the original Legend of Zelda video game. She is a word scribbler, head banger, math hater, book reader, food fixer, kitty keeper, and city slicker. She is also the author of the Born of Illusion novels. Teri lives with her husband and way too many pets in Portland, Oregon.

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Born of Illusion 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was predictable. The set up and characters were't bad but it was too long in some parts and just didn't amount to anything a amazing. The climax was really short and just went by too quickly considering ALL the build up. It was intriguing at first but then it just got predictable and fell short of any true plot because so much was left unsaid.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Born of Illusion by Teri Brown Book One of the Born of Illusion series Publisher: Balzer + Bray Publication Date: June 11, 2013 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all? What I Liked: It's a known fact that I don't read too much fiction set in the 1900s. I like historical fiction that is set in the 19th century and before, and modern fiction. But fiction in the 20th century... for some reason, it's never really appealed to me. So I was really hesitant to read this book, though I was curious about the magic described in the synopsis. I wasn't overly impressed with this book, but I still found the idea of the book very interesting. The main character, Anna, has exceptional skills with magic and illusions. But she's more than a girl with magic tricks - she seems to be a medium, who can communicate with spirits and see things in the future. So, as an illusionist working with her mother, she has to be careful with her gift as a medium. I liked Anna, and I don't think I ever got frustrated with her as a character. It was easy to follow her decisions and thoughts throughout the novel. I don't know much about the 1920's and how young ladies are supposed to act, but I assume the author did a good job with the authenticity of Anna's character. The romance was kind of silly, in my opinion. There is a "love triangle", but it's pretty obvious from the beginning which guy Anna really likes. I saw right through the secondary love interest, as soon as we meet him. The plot was not that interesting, in my opinion, but it wasn't hard to finish this book. I was interested and invested enough to make it through the book, especially once I hit the climax. I wanted to know what would happen, but at the the same time, I had an excellent idea of what would happen. And it did happen. Predictable end. What I Did Not Like: I think my biggest problem with this book was that the plot wasn't all that engaging, and I was sort of bored the entire time. I knew that I wasn't going to NOT finish this book, but at the same time, I sort of skimmed parts of this book. I wasn't really sucked into the plot, though I did think it was kind of interesting. It seems like the first part of the book was sort of interesting, but I lost interest as the book went on. Until the climax occurred. But then the end was so predictable. I hate Anna's mother. Anna spends the entire book saying how much her mother doesn't care about her, or trust her, or doesn't like her, but then in the end... what!? Maybe this is a 1920's thing that I just don't understand. But if you think someone doesn't like you THAT MUCH, I would distance myself from that person. Or at least, NOT put up with their crap all of the time. And the romance. What?! I feel like the author did a great job of putting together Anna and the secondary interest, but then the author sort of shoved Anna and the primary love interest together. It seemed forced. If I hadn't seen through the secondary love interest's facade from the time he is introduced, I might have been on his side. But the romance just kind of flopped, for me. And I'm still confused about the whole Houdini-is-your-father angle. Who cares?! What does that have to do with anything?! That didn't seem to be a major plot point, and yet, it's in the summary, and it's mentioned throughout the book. And people freak out when they hear that Anna is (supposedly) Houdini's daughter. Again. Who cares?! Why does that matter?! Does that make a difference in Anna's life? Is that where she got her medium ability? And do we ever get a proper explanation? No. Anna meets Houdini, Anna's mother is mad, Houdini remembers Anna's mother, but no one actually says anything about the truth of the matter, and why it is such a big deal. UGH. Basically, I got bored after a while, but the plot was still interesting. The romance was blah, and the end was predictable. Would I Recommend It: No. I know that this is a big Harper title, and many people were excited to read this one. But I still don't really recommend it. There are so many books that I need to get through (this being one of them), and I'm glad I was given the opportunity to read this one, but I wish I could have liked this one more. Rating:  3 stars. Not the most impressive debut, in my opinion.
Katee_Robert More than 1 year ago
This book really did it for me.  I loved Anna and how fully developed she and her relationships were. The conflicted emotions she felt when it came to both her mother and the man she knows as her father were delightfully in depth and incredibly realistic. While I very much enjoyed the romance, it was secondary to what she felt for her parents. This book is, at it's core, a coming of age story of a girl trying to find her place in the world. And the world Ms. Brown has created! It's full of flavor and so real I half believed I could reach out and touch it. Loved Anna's history and the glimpse we get of the future in store for her. Suffice to say, I will most definitely be tuning in for book two! 
DaniRoo More than 1 year ago
Anna has a secret - she can see the future. It's a secret she's carefully guarded and never revealed to anyone, especially not her famous medium mother who only plays at talking to the dead and telling peoples' futures through trickery, research and guesswork. After a transient childhood full of close calls, narrow escapes from the law, and a constant whirlwind of carnivals, stages, seances, and performances across the country, fate (and their new manager) has finally brought Anna and her mother to New York City. They've booked their show at the Newmark Theatre, have starting catering to a more upper-crust clientele, and are living in an actual home for the first time in Anna's life. Despite her growing discomfort with the deceit involved in her mother's seances, she hopes that their current situation will provide them both with some stability, some respectability and some normalcy. But when her occasional psychic visions start occurring with alarming frequency revealing disturbing flashes of herself and her mother in danger, when her repertoire of supernatural gifts begins expanding, and when her handsome and mysterious downstairs neighbor seems to know something about her talents, Anna determines to get to the bottom of what's going on. Anna. I loved Anna. Her search for normalcy and her longing to have a family and roots is relatable, even amidst all of the abnormalities that surround her. Careful, cautious, observant, street-savvy, stubborn, resourceful, intuitive, brave, creative and resourceful - all these qualities make Anna a wonderful heroine to read and to root for. Anna's tired of being on the move all the time, of deceiving the grieving and heartbroken, of keeping up the pretense that her mother isn't a fraud. Her mother's insistence on continuing to hold private seances helps put food on their table, but it also holds Anna hostage to a lifestyle she's becoming more and more disenchanted with. A talented magician in her own right, Anna is also tired of being jealously pushed aside, always playing second fiddle to her limelight-loving mother. And yet no matter how complicated their relationship, Anna loves her mother, and has an overwhelming desire to protect her, no matter how frustrated she gets. Mommy Dearest. And this was perhaps my favorite part of this novel - the complicated relationship Anna has with her mother. A medium, an actress, a diva, the consummate performer, Madam Marguerite Van Housen has never been an ideal mother due to her prevailing love of fame and performing. From a very early age, Anna was the one coming to her mother's rescue, the one checking the marks and learning the local gossip, the practical one behind the scenes keeping their little duo together, forcing her to grow up quickly. Throughout the book, Anna is torn between her love and concern for her mother, and her exhaustion with navigating the emotional minefield of her mother's manipulations, demands, ego, and games, all while being uncertain of the true nature of her mother's feelings for her. I just loved how much focus Brown put on this most complicated female relationship and the resolution of this particular relationship between Anna and her mother. "Two boys. And I call them Boy One and Boy Two."1 Speaking of relationships, let's talk romance and boys. Yes, boys plural. I know what you're thinking, but though there are two potential male interests in this story, I never considered this story to be a true love triangle. Boy One is serious, smart, observant, perceptive, protective (while respectful of Anna's independence), and has a rare, but surprising, sense of humor. Boy Two is outgoing, carefree, charming... and talks like he just finished reading The Cat's Meow: 1920s Slang for Dummies. Though it takes Anna a little longer (and rightly so, given her circumstances) it didn't take me long at all to completely fall for one of them and I loved watching the romance between Anna and "Boy Who Wins Her Heart" develop. "Are you watching closely?"2 All in all, Born of Illusion proved to be a pretty decent mystery. I guessed the ending long before the big reveal, but it didn't bother me overly much and it was still entertaining to discover just how all the pieces fit together. It was a story that kept moving steadily forward, though I wish it had maintained a higher sense of urgency, especially at the end. I also love the historical integration of the all the things that made this novel feel period - the clothes, the atmosphere, the spiritualist culture, the language - while, at the same time, the story also gives off a very modern vibe. Anna lived in an age in which women had just won the vote, in which they were becoming more independent of men and emerging from centuries of patriarchal repression and Teri Brown definitely captures that spirit in her heroine. Overall. With a fantastic heroine, fun mystery, fascinating historical setting, and lovely romance, Born of Illusion is the bee's knees. 1 Dr. Seuss = The cat's pajamas 2 The Prestige... which I totally watched again after reading this. Next up... The Illusionist.
LovinLosLibros More than 1 year ago
2.5/5 stars I am so beyond disappointed in this book! I read the synopsis and fell in love! Magic, love, intrigue? Set in the 1900's? I was SO in! Unfortunately this book did not live up to my expectations. The first issue I had was the pacing. I was interested in getting to know Anna and her lifestyle as a magician working with her 'mentalist/medium' mother in a stage show. I was also interested in meeting all the secondary characters. But once that all happened, the book just kept dragging its feet and was very slow going. It wasn't until the last part of the book where the action actually picked up and even then it was a bit anti-climactic because you can see what direction its going to take. Secondly, I took issues with the characterization. I liked Anna well enough but I didn't form any kind of attachment to my characters. They were just kind of... there. Anna is a talented magician who doesn't have the best relationship with her mother. Her mother is very much in charge and does not want Anna stealing the limelight from her. In fact, her mom kind of reminded me of Cinderella's step-mother, with Anna always taking care of her and so forth. She just wasn't a very motherly character and the way she treated Anna really bothered me. You see some of her reasons at the end, but it still doesn't eliminate the pettiness. The romance was quite bland if you ask me. And there was an attempt at a love triangle, that I did not feel worked at all. One minute Anna would have feelings for one guy and the next she'd be questioning his every motive and what he was hiding. Then guy #2 enters the picture and drove me freaking crazy with his over exaggeration and 'showy' personality. And yet she fell for that! At least our first interest, while having secrets, actually expressed a true interest in her and seemed a bit more genuine in his affections, not 'falling to his knees on the ground with a single rose in his hand'. Finally, I had plot issues. I just felt like something was lacking in this book. Again, I think with the combination of the pacing and the characterization, the plot just fell short. It was a bit too predictable for my tastes and I ended the book kind of thinking, "That's it?" There are also scenes that I felt weren't finished or explained. I know this is the first in a series, but those scenes should have been wrapped up in this book, because I know they won't have anything to do with the next. I did like Anna's interactions with Mr. Darby, her neighbor downstairs, as well as with Houdini. Those scenes definitely perked the book up a bit. Mr. Darby is a crotchety old man at first glance, but really is an inventor, who ended up warming up to her and helping her out later on in the book. Houdini as you all know, is a very famous magician, but I won't give away how he relates to this story. I also liked the historical aspect. I liked reading about the types of dresses Anna and her mom would wear, I liked the going out to the theater and learning about the magic shows. So those were all positives for me. Overall, unfortunately, while there were some aspects I did like, for the most part this was a miss for me. *I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review*(
Sailon More than 1 year ago
Anna VanHousen has been assisting in her mother’s , Marguerite, magic act since she was a child. Marguerite is a medium while Anna wow’s the crowd with slide of hand tricks and escaping hand cuffs. Anna and Marguerite’s relationship is volatile, as Anna gets older it seems Marguerite is becoming jealous of Anna’s abilities but the true secret is Anna’s abilities are real while Marguerite is a con and illusions. Anna life takes a drastic change when she meets her landlord’s nephew. It seems all her abilities are enhanced when the Cole, the nephew, is around. Most disturbing is the recurring vision of her mother bound and her struggling to breath being pulled into the depths of water. This was an interesting story of a young woman finding her place in the world. Even though Anna is truly magically gifted, discovering her inner strength and identity still is a daunting task. I appreciated the relationship she built with the grumpy old man Mr. Darby and her interactions with Houdini. An original stride in the paranormal young adult genre, Born of Illusions provided a fun and entertaining read with an intriguing mystery to boot. This ARC copy of Born of Illusion was given to me by HarperCollins - Balzer Bray in exchange for a honest review. This Book is set for publication on June 11, 2013.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the 1920's view of New York ! I really liked the tie in with Houdini, seances, magic and romance. Great read
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
"Fortune-telling laws are getting stricter and stricter so all it takes is one disgruntled client ratting us out to the authorities and we're in deep trouble. They allow us to hold our magic and mentalist shows because they're considered harmless entertainment. It's the private seances the authorities object to, but the amount of money we get is worth the risk." Anna Van Housen has been a part of her mother's mentalist act for years. She has also helped break her mother out of jail countless times when she is arrested during one of their fake seances. Herself a gifted magician, Anna loves performing magic in front of a crowd almost as much as she hates the seances. But the money makes it impossible to stop. Posing as a medium and performing false seances might be a crime, but for Anna the real risk isn't being outed as a fraud; it's having people find out she really does have psychical powers. As she and her mother start once again in Jazz Age New York City, Anna begins having strange visions of her mother in danger. Surrounded by new people, in a new city, Anna's powers become stronger and dangers seem to be everywhere. As she tries to learn more about her abilities and her mysterious downstairs neighbor, Anna is drawn into a world of psychical abilities and the paranormal. In order to get to the root of her visions, and her own complicated relationship with her mother, Anna will have to separate the illusions from the truth in Born of Illusion (2013) by Teri Brown. Born of Illusion is the first book in a series. The sequel Born of Deception is scheduled to publish in 2014. Born of Illusion is a wonderful blend of fact and fiction as Brown integrates real people and events into a completely unique plot. Anna is a refreshingly self-assured, confident heroine who knows exactly what she wants if not always whom.* The supporting cast in Born of Illusion is equally well-written and enjoyable. In a book that operates in grey areas, all of the characters are realistically human and, yes, sometimes flawed. While the story centers on Anna and her unsettling visions, Brown also expertly unpacks Anna's complex relationship with her mother throughout the story. Anna's checkered past as a show-woman and her magic act add even more atmosphere to a delightful story. There are a lot of books set in the 1920s. Many of those books are set in New York City. Brown adds something new to that conversation with her novel filled with magic and adventure. Born of Illusion will be a delight for readers of historical fiction and paranormal novels alike. *There is a lover triangle of sorts in this book and it isn't a strong story element although I understand the need for it. Ultimately I enjoyed the book enough to overlook it. Possible Pairings: The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb *This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2013*
book4children More than 1 year ago
What a fun book! Born of Illusion has many familiar themes in it from mainstream YA, but the characters and the time period make the story interesting. Anna's mother pretends to be a medium, but Anna really is one. I loved the mother-daughter dynamic in the book. The relationship between Anna and her mother is a complicated one, full of love, mistrust, frustration, admiration, and deception. Anna is a wonderful character. She has her flaws, but who wouldn't—especially considering her upbringing? I loved the way she develops friendships with people and how she takes the initiative to seek out answers to her many questions. I loved the inclusion of Harry Houdini as a character in this book. While he didn't play a huge role, he added a rich, authentic feel to the story. I liked the way Anna approached most of her relationships with caution. It took her a long time to learn to trust anyone. There is a light element of romance to the book, but it's very clean. There is nothing questionable by way of romance in the book. It makes me so happy to see clean young adult books. Especially when they are so well written. If you like magic, mystery, or are looking for something new, give this book a try. The second book, Born of Deception came out recently and I can't wait to get started on it! Content: This is a very clean book, but it does contain the following: a few mild curse words, some potentially scary scenes where Anna communicates with spirits, and a small amount of violence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good.
EverAfterEsther More than 1 year ago
I had SO much fun reading Born of Illusion, and I loved the little details which make this book stand out from the crowd of newly-released YA. Between a super cool setting, bizarre character dynamics, and a little bit of real-life magic thrown in, this book has a lot going for it. Also, I think the cover is very fitting for the book and really stands out to me because of how well it was designed even if it isn't the most unique book cover I've seen. Reasons to Read: 1. An intriguing New York in the 1920's setting: This was probably my favourite aspect of the book: I adored this setting. You get jazz era prohibition, and we're just past the turn of the century when all sorts of ideas and things are all shiny and new (which we especially get to see regarding technology). And Teri Brown gives it enough attention, by including (brief) descriptions of clothing, scenes, and even the lifestyle in general. 2. Contemplative exploration of various relationships: Born of Illusion was heavily character-driven to me, best evidenced through the various relationships and character dynamics found in this book. Anna's relationship with her mother was the most intriguing to me, because it isn't your typical mother-daughter relationship but it's also very present in the plot and one of the main motivations for Anna's decision-making. Anna also manages to make a number of new friends, all of whom are vastly different from Anna but it's touching to see how friendships can come about in unexpected ways. 3. Magic that's more than an illusion: I loved that there was this struggle for Anna between pretending that the tricks and illusions she does with her mother are real for their customers, while at the same time hiding her genuine "magical" abilities from those around her. It just made for such an interesting dichotomy between these two types of magic, and made the story more believable for me as a reader. It took me some time to warm up to most of the secondary characters, because they felt very one-dimensional to me at first. This was definitely the type of book that takes a little bit longer to solidify its development, but once it did I was remarkably impressed with how thoughtful the plot was in Born of Illusion. I'm really looking forward to the sequel, Born of Deception.  ARC received from HarperCollins Canada for review; no other compensation was received. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AliceGrace More than 1 year ago
Born of Illusion is a wonderfully delicious swirl of historical fiction and magic. Anna Van Housen can sense feelings and see the future. She's lived an unpredictable life in which she has traveled from place to place and has helped her mother escape imprisonment multiple times. Not to mention, she and her mother break the law quite regularly. Stories with magicians really intrigue me and Born of Illusion is everything I wanted in that department. Miss Brown not only showed us the magic everyone else saw but also everything the Van Housen women had to do behind the scenes. We were able to see their every secret. None of the magic was lost in those revelations though and the magic tricks and illusions were just as wonderful. Some of my favorite parts were the séances. They weren't dark but they were just creepy enough for you to really enjoy them. The historical time period Miss Brown chose was perfect for the job. It added just the right amount of that old world feel mixed with the excitement and uncertainty the new technology and way of life the 1920s brought. I could not have asked for a better setting. The love story left a little something to be desired. Anna and Cole are both perfect for each other but it wasn't as developed as I would have liked. (You can see my full run down on their relationship here.) My only other complaint is the ending. Everything builds and builds until Anna finally confronts the antagonist but then you missed everything because she goes unconscious. It left things very anti-climatic for me. With that said, I'm curious to see what Miss Brown will be doing with the next book. She left things pretty tied up, leaving a few loose ends and just enough room for another book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ElisabethWA More than 1 year ago
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown is a story filled with magic. This is such a great story. It’s written for the young adult but I enjoyed it very much. I had trouble getting past the first chapters but after that I was drawn it to the story. Every time I needed to put the book down I was anticipating the time I could pick it up again and read more about The Magician, Anna Van Housen and her mother. The story flows and keeps you on your toes and wanting to learn more about Anna and her abilities. To me this is Teri Brown’s best book to date. I for one can’t wait to read more from Teri. “Read My Lips” by Teri Brown what the first book of hers that I ever read. That one is also a young adult book and it good me hook on every book Teri Brown has written since.
crayolakym More than 1 year ago
What a cool way to teach us kids about the history of secret societies coming from the real live secret societies from the 1800′s. This is a very exciting book that makes you want to jump inside and wish you could be Anna. “I wish we had met under different circumstances. That I didn’t have to try to explain.” Anna has some incredible powers as a magician and illusionist and just might possibly be the unknown daughter of the very famous magician, Harry Houdini. Anna lives among the New York City underground during the 1920′s and was only thirteen when she really put her magic to the test for the first time, when she broke her mom out of jail. But, her mom is all about making it big as a medium and if she knew Anna had these talents would use her like a freak show to benefit from it. When a strange man notices that Anna has talent, he takes her to a secret society where she is forced to expose herself and starts wondering if all those crazy stories her mom told her are real. Could she really be the daughter of Houdini? This book is the start to a new series that will feature a special kid and a new secret society in every book. It’s packed with adventure and so much action that I know you will like it as much as I did! *This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*  *You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review