If there’s one thing that always captivates me, it is: MAGICIAN STORIES.
Like leave me with The Prestige and Now You See Me movies and I will be immensely satisfied and flaily. So I was really excited when I heard about Illusions and it promised (1) magicians’ apprentices who fall in love, (2) one is out to steal the other’s secrets, (3) so basically two disaster boys, and (4) the magic is actually…real.
This was more softer and romance-focused than I’d anticipated, but still a solidly good read. The universe hears my magician pleas and ANSWERS. Thank you.
➸ It’s Historical Fiction…but with MAGIC.
Thomas works as an apprentice to a gnarly and mean old magician…but the secret? Thomas is REALLY magical. So this is his cover up. It’s set in 1899, so the tone is very Proper and British and Yes, Sir, Some Tea If You May. Our alternating narrator, however, is Sav who is Italian and instead of stealing Thomas’ secrets for his own master, he falls in looove. Look, this is a bit predictable but who even cares!? It was adorable and heartwarming, even if you could see where the story was going.
ALSO YOU WILL NOT SEE THE ENDING.
THE ENDING IS A MAGICIAN NIGHTMARE OF GLORY.
➸ The magical elements were actually gorgeous.
They made enchanted gardens in bookstores! Turned paper into birds! At first Thomas is so scared of his own powers (he’s been raised to be) but he starts to realise they can be pretty and innocent and it’s just super cute how he starts using them for soft things. Like leave Thomas alone and he’s like: WHAT IF I MADE LOVELY STARS. Our soft cinnamon son.
➸ Let’s talk about Thomas and Sav…
Thomas is so sweet and adorable and awkward. Sav is an absolute confident swaggering betterknife. I adore reading this combo in any circumstance ok…and it’s especially hilarious how Sav was determined to seduce as a JOB. No emotions! And then he’s freaking out if Thomas doesn’t contact him every day. Lol lol you go, Sav. Thomas’ arc is definitely the best of the two though. He just grows up so much and takes control of his own destiny. AWW! And as much as I loved their romance, I do admit I was hoping for MORE magicians, illusions, shows, and sleight of hand. It didn’t focus on that so much???
➸ I think I wanted a bit more from it??
Here’s the thing: It’s written in journal entries and this made me feel really distant. The whole story is told in retrospect, so the boys often spoil the climatic moments before they even happen because they have to recap. It’s like always an outline of events (in a posh old-fashioned style) and tbh I’ve written book synopses like this. Very little dialogue. Very little development of secondary characters. Kinda slow. Anyway, it’s a style! Maybe I didn’t mesh with it, but that’s on me.
I also slightly wondered if it was really YA? I mean, Sav is in his 20s and both are living out of home, independent, working etc…I feel YA explores what it is to not be a kid anymore, while this was already about adulthood. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This is full of magicians and fake-romances-turning-real and heart-pounding endings. So so many elements to love! I wish it hadn’t been in journal entries and just told. But it’s beautiful and heartfelt and THAT ENDING WAS HECKIN’ WILD.
THANK YOU TO ENTANGLED TEEN FOR THE eARC. Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds was published November 2018.
Thomas Pendelton was born into wealth and prestige. He has a sensitive heart and wants nothing more than to write poetry. Instead, he is apprenticing for Neville Wighton the Great, an aging magician who has become somewhat crazed over the years in his pursuit of fame. With Thomas’ help, Wighton is about to premiere the greatest illusion seen by man, for Thomas possesses something no other illusionist has: real magic. Many in the theatrical world are desperate to learn Wighton’s big secret. One such magician is Paolo il Magnifico. His apprentice, Saverio Moretti, is also seeking the answer. He has a scheme to get close to Wighton by seducing Thomas but seduction turns to real feelings. Now the young men must struggle to keep the secret of their romance, as well as the secret of Thomas’ magic, as both of these things could cost Thomas his life. Through journal entries, posters, letters, and other documents, ILLUSIONS is a story of love, betrayal, and of course, magic.