I know you're angry. It's true, I was sent to expose your mentor as a fraud illusionist, and instead I have put your secret in jeopardy. I fear I have even put your life in jeopardy. For that I can only beg your forgiveness. I've fallen for you. You know I have. And I never wanted to create a rift between us, but if it means protecting you from those who wish you deadI'll do it. I'll do anything to keep you safe, whatever the sacrifice. Please forgive me for all I've done and what I'm about to do next. I promise, it's one magic trick no one will ever see coming.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Madeline J. Reynolds is a YA fantasy author living in Chicago. Originally from Minneapolis, she has a background in journalism and has always loved storytelling in its various forms. When not writing, she can be found exploring the city, eating Thai food, or lost in an epic Lord of the Rings marathon.
Read an Excerpt
The Trick & the Trickster
October 03, 1898
Twelve days. Twelve. Less than two weeks' time and Neville Wighton the Great will premiere his grand illusion for the city of London. It is his chance to cement his legacy. All he needs is for me to wait in the wings as I do my part.
October 05, 1898
West London, would that you were as inviting to me as you are to everyone else. Yet here I am. Uprooted once again to a new city, with new streets to explore, new theatres to perform in, and a sea of new faces.
It comes with the territory. From growing up in the brothel, to doing menial labor as a stagehand, to being named apprentice to Paolo il Magnifico, I take one grueling step after another to finally improve my station.
Paolo thinks I am merely his assistant. He says I should be grateful for the opportunity. One day, he says, he will show me his tricks. His secrets. And then I, too, can be a magician. If I just wait.
But I am tired of waiting. All my life I've been waiting. I might only be nineteen, but I am meant for great things. I know it.
Until then, I follow Paolo, acting as his shadow, learning and doing all that I can. The constant travel means I am always alone, which is probably for the best. It's simple: no friends means not having to say goodbye once it is time to make our way to the next theatre in the next city.
I suppose I consider Isabella a friend of sorts. As Paolo's assistant, she is the only other familiar face I see on a consistent basis. But knowing Paolo, that likely won't last much longer. He has achieved the amount of fame that he has by being strategic, not generous. His sharp eyes are always looking for a younger, prettier face — much like my own. Ah, but all jokes aside, it really is a shame. Isabella and I were just starting to get along.
It is for the best. A true magician can open up to no one. But I won't always be alone, will I? Not truly. Just like Paolo, once I am a magician, the crowd will sustain me. Their amazement, their adoration. For the time being, I find my companionship with different bedfellows.
I offer a kiss, my bed, my body. And then, for my own trick, I disappear.
* * *
As our carriage rolled along the cobblestone streets of London town, I scanned the crowds for prospects to contain my loneliness. Things did not look too promising, though. London's inhabitants seem about as chipper as the gray skies that hang over the city. And for some reason, they cover themselves from head to toe. No worry. I always do enjoy a challenge.
But as we continued onward, Paolo abruptly ordered our driver to stop. We came to West London for a reason, and it seemed he'd found it.
He exited the carriage, and Isabella gave me a knowing look — a wordless request to follow, so I did.
We had stopped in front of some square. A large column was plastered with local advertisements and notifications from businesses looking for laborers. And there was Paolo, staring at a poster. And from his glare, I could tell he wanted to rip the paper away and let it fall to the mud- caked street below.
Neville Wighton the Great. The whole reason we came here. We were originally supposed to perform in Munich, but while we were renting an apartment in Prague, I'd discovered a flyer for this "Neville Wighton the Great," making the same claims as that very poster. I had moved to throw the flyer away, but Paolo had ripped it from my hands and screamed, "Don't touch it!"
What is odd is I'd heard scarce little of Wighton before coming across the flyer. Any professionally working illusionist makes near-identical claims about their own performances.
A trick never before seen!
The greatest illusion on this earth!
Magic that will make you believe!
Paolo is never really one to notice or care, especially when it comes to performers who are so far beneath him. Yet this one commands every ounce of his being.
I was finally able to pry him away and usher him back into our carriage. Now we are settling comfortably into our rooms.
Why was my mentor in such a state? The advertisements make it seem that it will be a performance like most others. All I really know of the man is that he is older, so, as a veteran of the stage, he likely will not stoop to anything so simple as mere card tricks. Through the use of mirrors, cabinets with secret compartments, trapdoors leading underneath the stage, and a young woman with tantalizing good looks and a provocative, most likely sequined, costume (much like our Isabella), the man will entertain, confound, and possibly even amaze the simple folk who hand over their money in the hopes of seeing something that they cannot explain.
Still, this is not unlike many other illusionists performing all around the world. There is a man over in the States who refers to himself as The Alchemist who has his assistant collect simple copper pennies from volunteers in his audience and he then appears to turn the coins into gold before returning them to the delighted audience members.
There will always be competition, there will always be new illusions being tested and even perfected, there will always be some new (or in this case, old) face that captures an audience's eyes and hearts. I see no reason to spy on a performance that undoubtedly employs many of the same tricks or elements that Paolo currently utilizes himself.
I tried convincing my mentor of this to calm him.
"I have to see his trick," was all he said back to me.
He did not say he needed to see the performance as a whole but his trick. One singular trick. It is only now that I am remembering how the notice had advertised that Mr. Wighton will be performing a feat unlike any seen before.
I attempted to feed his ego various lines about how any tricks that the Englishman would perform could never hold a candle to Paolo's powers of prestidigitation. But once again, my mentor only had one response.
"I have to see his trick. For months now that stale old fopdoddle has been hinting at how this will be the performance to change his career and thus his fortune. A little late in life for that ..."
My eyebrow shot up as I looked to my mumbling mentor. He was staring at the ground, talking more to himself than me, and only when our eyes connected did he seem to remember that I was even in the room.
He did not speak on the subject for the rest of the night, and I was left to wonder. Months? I had not realized Neville Wighton was someone Paolo had even cared to follow, let alone that he has apparently been corresponding with the man.
Paolo has been anything but an open book, a fact I accepted long ago. But it seems there are far more unread chapters in his story than I had originally suspected, and more characters who are integral to the plot.
October 09, 1898
Something happened today. Something wonderful, and terrible, and exciting, and confusing ... o what does it matter? I am likely making more of it than actually exists.
And yet for something that will assuredly come to nothing ... my heart — it was beating as fast as it does the only other time it beats that fast is when my gift is making itself known, coursing through my veins like electrical currents.
This morning, Neville sent me off on errands in preparation for the opening performance, which is now only six days away. Specifically, I was to run to the tailor's shop to pick up his vest, tailcoat, and cloak that were made special for the performance.
Surely that was something I could not mess up ... but of course, I found a way.
As promised, the pieces were magnificent. The tailcoat was sleek and cut in a modern style. The vest was black, lined with a midnight-blue satin, as was the cloak, which was also embroidered with a gold thread that twinkled as it caught the light, as though it were fashioned after the night sky.
Honestly, I was astonished. The idea that a man with an appearance as unruly and unkempt as Neville Wighton would have a mind for fashion was lost on me. What with his brown hair sprouting from his head in every which direction and graying in such a nonuniform manner, it looked as though his head were simply doused in ash. Not to mention his sharp, birdlike features, which are only hardened further by the scowl permanently fixed to his face.
There is certainly something to be said about a man who takes such special care when it comes to showmanship, and I suppose it was shallow of me to just assume that such details of a performance were of no significance to him.
With his costume in hand, I hurried out of the shop. I took a shortcut back to Neville's studio, and just as I was cutting through Manchester Square, I tripped over my own feet. Everything seemed to happen slower then, moment by moment. The gorgeous night-sky cloak was the first to float to the ground, and I followed, landing atop it.
I groaned into the lapel of the tailcoat, not ready to pull myself up and inspect the damage, when the sound of laughter pierced through the air. When I did finally look up, a pair of girls, probably not much older than myself, hung on either arm of a young man whom I'd never seen around this part of town before.
He was beautiful. Not just handsome — I've seen plenty of handsome men. But this young man, he was ... striking. The way his dark curls hung loosely over even darker eyes had me at a loss for words. My stomach roiled in the strangest way. Not an unpleasant feeling — not at all. Just strange ... confusing ... unexpected. And yet, it was also welcome — as if something wonderful could happen at any moment just as long as he stayed near.
The girls he was with were giggling, but he seemed more contemplative than amused. He stepped forward and crouched down in front of me, then he picked up a part of the cloak and pinched it between his forefinger and thumb as he inspected it.
A cigarette hung from the side of his lips, and with him standing so close, a cloud of smoke created a veil between us. I did not know how to react, so I just lay there, frozen, letting the scent of the tobacco mixed with a hint of lavender oil filter through my senses.
He finally took his eyes off Neville's ruined ensemble, stood, and reached out an arm to help me up. At that, my heart was near stopping altogether. I pulled myself up quickly, hoping that if my movements were swift, the beautiful stranger wouldn't notice just how much I was trembling.
"What is your name?" he asked once I was up on my feet.
O his voice! A thick accent coated his words, and each syllable danced around my ears, sweet and melodic, as though he were singing rather than merely speaking. There I go again, as if I were sitting down to write another one of my poems rather than scribbling about the goings-on of my day in a journal.
"Thomas," I forced out in what was only incrementally louder than a whisper.
"Thomas," he repeated. It sounded so ... right, when he said it.
He looked back down at Neville's soiled suit and cloak, and he smirked, the cigarette never faltering for a second. "That is quite the outfit." His eyes met mine once again. "I'm sure it looks bello ... No, no. Fetching? This is the word you Englishmen use, yes? I'm sure it looks fetching on you — or it would have, anyway."
A surge of warmth shot through my face. Personally, I preferred the term "bello." Embarrassed, I was quick to admit that the clothing did not belong to me but to my master — which I then quickly switched to "mentor." That word still didn't feel right when describing Neville, because that would imply he's actually taught me something. But still, master makes it seem too much like I am his slave, rather than the young man who is about to either make or break his entire career.
He asked me who my mentor was and what sort of apprentice I am. I explained that I was working for "Neville Wighton the Great." Though it sounded foolish coming out of my mouth, those dark eyes of his widened.
"Oh, I do love magic," he said. "Always so confounding. Do a trick for us, won't you?" His female companions were quick to agree, urging me to do an impromptu performance, right in the square.
I mumbled something about how I couldn't possibly and that I did not have the proper materials. I am not even entirely sure what I said and how much of it consisted of actual words, but it worked, for they relented. The boy shot me one last thoughtful smile, shrugged, then walked off, the girls trotting eagerly behind.
It is only now as I sit here that I am lamenting and cursing myself for being such a fool. He asked for my name and yet I never bothered to ask for his. Now he remains a nameless stranger, one I will likely never see again.
All I wish to do is to continue writing about him for the rest of the day, but I must be off. I promised Amelia I would accompany her to lunch — more specifically, Mother made me promise after our last two meetings were arranged by her. Both Mother and Father think it improper, since it gives the appearance that she is the one courting me and not the other way around.
I shall do my best to be decent company, but my mind is still in Manchester Square.
* * *
Lunch with Amelia was fine. That is how all activities are with her. Just ... fine.
Amelia Ashdown is a lovely girl, to be certain. I have never once denied that. But after my encounter with the handsome stranger, I know what it is to truly admire someone's features rather than simply appreciate them, as I do with Amelia. Amelia's beauty, while apparent, has never made me desire to be close to her. Today, with that boy, I felt the urge to be close enough that if I were to reach out, my fingers could trace his cheekbone down to his sharp jaw. As he walked away, an odd, immediate sense of loneliness rushed through me.
Oh what does it matter, anyway? It is not as if I could do anything about these strange feelings. Even if I had thought to ask him for his name, even if I knew exactly where in the city to find him at this very moment, saints. Even if I were able to muster up the courage — everyone says it is a sin. Each one of my thoughts about him more sinful than the next. I mean ... just look at what happened to Wilde. I am already an "other" — something to be feared. The last thing I need is another secret. Another reason for the people of London to want to persecute me.
But is it so naive of me to want the type of passion I so often read about? Is it foolish to want a love that is so wholly consuming it causes me to ache? Fate is cruel that way, showing you exactly what you want even when it cannot be yours.
Passion or no, I shall continue to court Amelia, taking her out for tea and to lunches, for that is what is expected of me and what is proper.
October 09, 1898
Something marvelous happened today.
I went against my own rule and put a name to one of the faces I met today. Thomas. It was in some square that I spotted him, just across town, near a café where I had successfully charmed two girls — sisters, if you can believe it. These Londoners are not as repressed as I figured. We were making our way to somewhere a little more private when a blur of ash-blond curls, pale skin, and elegant eyes fell toward the earth in an excitable fashion.
Even in his state, he was pleasant looking: slender, big gray eyes framed by those bouncing curls. He was clearly younger, though, even if only by a couple of years, and therefore not quite my type. I would have simply kept moving were it not for the articles of clothing he had dropped around him.
At first glance, they would have seemed like a simple black vest, tailcoat, and cloak, but the cloak and vest were each lined with a dark- blue fabric that had been embroidered with gold thread in such a way that the pattern looked like the night sky. No ordinary boy would be in possession of garments such as these.
And so I reached out a helping hand.
As it happens, the boy is also an apprentice a magician's apprentice. And he works for none other than Neville Wighton the Great.
It was a grand coincidence, surely. But could it be anything more than that? The more I have been thinking on it, the more I am certain: this is no mere coincidence; this is an opportunity.
You see, I have been waiting an eternity for Paolo to reveal his secrets to me. But I might now be able to claim something of my own, something Paolo wants so much that he will finally stop teasing me.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Illusions"
Copyright © 2018 Madeline J. Reynolds.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Content Warning: Abuse, Homophobia, Hate Crime, Depression, Public Execution Told in alternating journal entries & poems by Thomas in between Immediately engaging and swept me away, very easy to imagine and slip into Could NOT stop reading. Pacing and flow is perfect. Did have to flip back to check out the dates as I was reading because I kept losing the time frame & dates, but that’s a personal problem Journal entries were AMAZING. I love what was included and what was missing, leaving some to the imagination and between the lines. Voices and styles are very distinct for each narrator. I love their getting to know each other and following romance. Thomas is an adorable cinnamon roll poet while Saverio is dashing, and mischievous. Saverio kinda reminds me of Flynn from Tangled, TBH. I can totally see him doing “the smolder” There’s no real explanation or world building in regards to the magic, it’s about their relationships and the now. I’m cool with that personally. But don’t go in expecting a ton of witchiness or spells or details. Did not see that twist coming. Honestly thought it was going another way. CRIED at the end. While in public on the bus. Embarrassing but so damn good. five-stars Perfect for fans of Timekeeper by Tara Sim with less focus on the magical/paranormal aspects and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, with a little bit of magic.
take two magician's apprentices, in victorian london, and have one performing in a magic show with an inexplicable illusion and the other out to figure out how it's done, and you have the barebones of this story. illusions is told from the perspective of the two apprentices, thomas and saverio, through their journal entries and correspondence. we learn that thomas is hiding a huge secret, he is the explanation for the magician's tricks. he possesses a real power, magic to transform and alter people's perception of the world around them. the how and whys of his magic are irrelevant to the novel, he simply possesses it and we accept it. it manifests physically and visually. when thomas and saverio quite literally run into each other in manchester square, sav notes the interest in thomas's eyes. interest that he has no problem exploiting for his own gain. but the more time he spends with the younger, innocent man, the more he finds him appealing. thomas might be green, but something about sav makes him daring. and this strength allows saverio to let go of some of his walls and fall headlong in love with thomas. there are obstacles to be overcome. the magician thomas is apprenticed to has a hold over him that seems impossible to esccape from. there's also the issue of saverio's lies. and thomas' parents' selling out of their only child. but the way this story finds a way for thomas and saverio is so beautiful. i couldn't put this down. when it ended i was just swooning. **illusions will publish on november 6, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.
Illusions is written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. Every magician wants to create the perfect performance. They want their final act to give the audience an overwhelming sense of something spectacular. Neville Wighton is no different. He learns a secret which makes his act go from mediocre to spectacular. His shows become sellouts but the secrets to his final act could be deadly. Saverio is obsessed with finding out how his trick can be done. He's so obsessed he starts attending every performance. He will do literally anything to work out how Neville's new trick is done. Saverio is even willing to seduce the magicians assistant. Thomas wishes he was studying at a top school. He loves literature and wants to write his own material, poems are his forte. Thomas is special. He has a talent a magician could use and his parents choose this path for him. He becomes Neville Wighton's assistant. Thomas wants to be loved and find himself. Saverio is obsessed and willing to do whatever it takes. I have to be honest I struggled with the writing style of this book and I would recommend you try a sample before diving in. I actually read this book in two halves. The story is interesting I just wish it wasn't written in diary form. Thomas doesn't get to live his dreams he only gets to help others. Illusions is bittersweet. 3 stars out of 5. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Disclaimer I voluntarily read and reviewed this advance reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. So thank you so much to the autho, Entangled publishing, and Netgalley for giving me the chance to review this amazing book. I give this book a 3.5/5 starts The writing style of the books is interesting, and unique. Illusions is written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. The story is told in the point of views of two main characters. Thomas Pendleton, an aspiring poet and magician’s apprentice. And Saverio Moretti, apprentice to the magician Paolo il Magnifico. Spoilers******* Thomas has a major secret one that could possibly end up getting him killed. He possesses actual magic. That is how he ended up being an apprentice. His parents thought hiding him amongst what is known to be the false magic of a stage magician was the best way to actually keep him safe. So that is how he ended up being the apprentice of a magician named Wighton. But Wighton is exploiting Thomas powers making Thomas use his powers to make him disappear and reappear somewhere else, all Wighton cares about is fame and being the best. Sadly, Wighton is very abusive(physically and mentally) of Thomas. When Thomas only wishes to be free and attend a university to write his own work. Saverio (Sav) is an assistant to Paolo il Magnifico. Sav is only longing for a show of his own. So Paolo agrees to let Sav find out how Wighton is able to do disappearing trick, Sav takes the opportunity. He seduces Thomas for information. But his plans fails as he gets to know Thomas more he starts harboring feelings for Thomas. I was happy that i actually got to see the growth in the relationship between them, it wasn’t just an insta love and i enjoyed that very much. This book was very entertaining and i was hooked from the start. If you are a fan of The Night Circus, or even a Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I highly recommend this book. You should definitely keep a look out for this book when it releases November 6, 2018.
3.5* I was intrigued by the blurb for Illusions, (which I see has now changed on the retail sites), not having read too many books about magicians. And while I did enjoy the story and it had great potential, it didn’t turn out to be quite as entertaining as I had hoped. I didn’t actually mind the way the story was told through the journal entries of each character, and that may be because there was a lot more detail to them than what you’d normally expect to find in a diary format. The beginnings of each of the longer entries (chapters) started as if someone was writing in their journal, but then morphed into more of an actual narrative as each section progressed. That led to me wondering why it wasn’t just written in alternating point of views, instead of the hit and miss way with the journals. It took me a bit to get pulled into the story- it really wasn’t until the last half of the book that I was truly invested. To be honest, the first 50% or so dragged. I know the set up was necessary, to get to know Thomas and Sav, but nothing really happened except for a few minor surprises. There were a couple of times I did think of waving the white flag, but by the end of the book I was glad I had stuck with it, because Thomas is one of those endearing characters that you want all the good things to happen to/for. Ms. Reynolds threw in a few twist and turns that were unexpected and that helped win me over in the end. ***Thank you to Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review.
I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion. 4 stars — Guess who has a crying headache now? Oh, that would be me!!! I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this one, as it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse in a couple of ways: a) I don’t tend to read historical; and b) it was written as a series of journal entries, which I wasn’t sure I was going to like. But that blurb just sucked me in, you know? Which, I must say, now that I’ve read the story, I feel like the blurb is kind of misleading. I kept expecting something because of the blurb, and maybe I’m just not thinking correctly, but I don’t feel like the blurb *quite* fits into the story. Regardless, though, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. Since this book was outside the norm for me, I was super reluctant to start it. But once I did, I became intrigued. And the further along I went, the more invested I became in the story and our characters. I’m not sure if the way the story was told (through journal entries, and the occasional newspaper clipping, etc) was actually necessary. Part of me says yes, definitely. Part of me felt like the journal entries didn’t always feel like real journal entries. It was like the author was trying to stick to that, but occasionally it felt more like narrative. But honestly? In the end it didn’t matter to me, because my love for Thomas and Saverio overshadowed everything else. Thomas broke my heart so many times. He was so shy and nervous, and struggling with so much. And seeing all those people using him was just disgusting. He had such a sweet, pure heart that it just made it worse. But I did love seeing him grow throughout the story, build confidence, and become more self-accepting. Saverio took a bit longer to get his hooks into me. Which is not to say I disliked him at the beginning, but I was wary of him. Even with what we know of how he grew up, it was still hard to watch him being so cold and almost mercenary. But I think that made his slow fall that much more satisfying, and believable. If the turnaround had been abrupt, it wouldn’t have felt authentic. I even appreciated the occasional missteps he made after falling for Thomas, because that was believable too. I thought it was interesting how Sav was fine with his sexual preferences, even at that time. It was so different from Thomas… It was SO HARD to read about the way they had to hide their love in that time period. I mean, I know it’s hard to be gay in the here and now, but I can’t even FATHOM how hard it would have been back then. BUT their romance was so sweet and beautiful, and I just truly felt their connection to one another. This book truly took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. I had no idea where we were going to end up, but I was satisfied when I got there. On a side note, I will admit that this book didn’t feel young adult to me. It wasn’t that it was explicit or anything, it just didn’t feel “teen” to me. But honestly, as an adult reader, I’m not sure I know what YA is anymore. So yeah. I went into this one with trepidation, and it surprised me in all the best ways.
"Illusions" was an enthralling historical romance with supernatural elements. The premise set up at the beginning of the book is that we are reading the historical documents held by the London Metropolitan Archives- diary entries of Thomas Pendleton and Saverio Moretti (translated), magician's apprentices. Thomas is the apprentice for Neville Wighton, an up-and-coming magician, and a job which Thomas does not want- his parents have pushed him into it. Thomas would rather write poetry and study at the university he attends. You see, Thomas is harboring a secret- one that could get him killed- he possesses actual magic. His parents think this is the best way to keep him safe, hidden amongst what is known to be the false magic of a stage magician. Wighton is using his abilities to perform a marvelous trick- he jumps off the stage and disappears, only to reappear in a balcony box. This trick is what is going to make Wighton's career, but Wighton is still verbally and physically abusive of his assistant. Thomas wishes only to be free. Saverio (Sav) is an Italian assistant to the man who purchased him when he was young, Paolo il Magnifico- however, Saverio is ready to make a career on his own. When Paolo agrees to allow Sav to remain in England to study Wighton's secret for the marvelous disappearing trick, Sav knows that this is his chance. He sets his eyes on the assistant, Thomas, to seduce and get information. However, as he begins his seduction, he gets to know Thomas better and faces an internal struggle. While the first part of the book seemed to drag, I was soon completely enthralled by the story and the format. Their relationship really drives the story forward and the format worked perfectly for this. The magic takes a backseat to the romance but is a current running underneath the novel, which has key roles to play at certain points. While I liked Thomas right away, Sav had to grow on me, largely through his own epiphanies and gains in terms of his own identity. Overall, it was an amazing journey, and I found reading about Thomas and Sav really fascinating. Although not quite what I expected (I was expecting more about the magic than romance), I really enjoyed it as-is, and I wouldn't change a thing. I highly recommend for older teen readers and adults who like historical romance- this is definitely a worthwhile read! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.