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Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1)

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,671 ratings  ·  475 reviews
Anna Van Housen has a secret.

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge fo...more
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Balzer + Bray (first published January 1st 2013)
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YA Novels of 2013
168th out of 1,512 books — 10,250 voters
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YA Historical Fiction of 2013
6th out of 50 books — 176 voters


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Community Reviews

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Emily May


This book was a very pleasant surprise. My copy of this has been waiting a while, constantly put aside in favour of other historical fiction novels that appealed to me more - for example, Out of The Easy and In the Shadow of Blackbirds. However, when I finally decided to give in and dive into this world of magicians, seances, Houdini and 1920s New York City, I found myself caught up in a dazzling whirlwind of history, magic and romance. I now must sit here, twiddling my thumbs impatiently as I...more
Giselle
Magicians, mediums, old school theatre entertainment, and a historical New York setting; I absolutely loved the atmosphere in every aspect of this novel!

Anna Van Housen, the opening act of her mother's magic show, is the real deal: she's a medium, she has visions of the future, and she can feel others' emotions. Plus, she's rumored to be Houdini's illegitimate daughter. With a premise like that, how can I not be intrigued? Plus, just look at this amazing cover! I was excited to finally sink my t...more
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
4.5 start
Stories about the sudden popularity of spiritualism during and right after World War I seem to be all the rage these days. First there were The Diviners by Libba Bray, then came In the Shadow of Blackbirds by CatWinters, and now there’s Born of Illusion, their equal in both quality and entertainment value. Even though this is only her second young adult novel, it is already quite clear that Teri Brown deserves her place among the best.

Have I told you lately how much I love a good ghost...more
Faye, la Patata
Read this and my other reviews at The Social Potato!

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.

Final Verdict: 2.5 / 5

Yeah...

Not really sure how to put my utter disappointment and headache into words. It is not often that I get a migraine from reading a book; those are usually for the really bad ones like Wasteland and even The 5th Wave, although that's a story for another day. I really wanted to love Born of Illusion, especially after rea...more
Melanie
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Thank you HarperTeen for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.

'I was thirteen the first time I broke my mother out of jail. After that it got easier, though I have to admit, even I had trouble getting the door unlocked whole hanging off the back of a paddy wagon. Is not an experience I wish to repeat.'

What a pleasant surprise historical fiction can be when executed beautifully. After the disappointments I've had latel...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
One of the recent trends seems to be historical fiction set in the 1920s. Born of Illusion is the third one I've read in the last year with a focus on the occult during the prohibition era. The fact that Born of Illusion follows on the heels of The Diviners and In the Shadow of Blackbirds does not really diminish it for me, and, likely, it was already in the editing process before the first of those was released. It's a funny coincidence, though. Well, three books in and I am definitely a fan of...more
Keertana
Born of Illusion falls into that inevitably irritating category of novels which have received a mixed bag of reviews. A handful of my trusted reviewers loved this, another handful really enjoyed this, and still another group of them just couldn't connect with this one. Thus, I did what any reader would do: sit tight, wait, and make a decision concerning this novel after reviews of its sequel trickled in. Well, guess who was well and truly hypnotized upon seeing the breathtaking cover of this at...more
Brandi





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...more
Kassidy
*4.5*

LOVED this book!! The 1920s setting is fantastic, the magic captivating, and the plot intriguing. This is such a fun book! I loved the characters, especially the main character, Anna, and her relationship with her mother. There's also a lovely romance.
The historical element really made the story and I really felt like I was transported back in time! There're some familiar names and I loved reading about the speakeasies and all of the clothing!
The magic aspect gave this book a real kick. It...more
Nafiza
Born of Illusion is, I can tell because I have superior powers (just kidding), the first in a series. It will either be a trilogy, no, it most probably be a trilogy. The novel is set in the 20s, as, for some reason or another, YA novels are wont to be. The setting does not play as large a part in the novel as it does in Bray’s The Diviners but the narrative is nicely sprinkled with meaty tidbits that situate the reader firmly in that decade.

My favourite part of this novel is Anna van Housen. Oft...more
Lady Danielle
Anna Van Housen is an illusionist who has the ability to feel people's emotions, communicate with the dead, and foretell the future. But these are secrets she keeps hidden, especially from her mother, Marguerite Van Housen. It's hard for Anna to converse with her mother because Marguerite is a very jealous woman who hates when the spotlight isn't on her. Give a small praise to Anna and Marguerite with shoot her a daggering stare. Give Anna your undivided attention -- or maybe a standing ovation...more
Katherine
description
"Magic is the sole science not accepted by scientists because they can't understand it.- Harry Houdini"

Setting:New York City; 1923

Coverly Love?:Yes, surprisingly; I don't usually like covers with a close-up of a face, but this works. Her eyes are so blue!!

Plot:Anna van Housen has been her mother's assistant in her magic and séance shows since she was a little girl. The supposed illegitimate daughter of the famous magician Harry Houdini, Anna and her mother are finally able to settle down and pe...more
Heather
I was super excited when I read the synopsis for Teri Brown's Born of Illusion. I think spiritualism is a fascinating subject from an historical perspective. Who doesn't think that seances, Ouija boards, and communing with ghost is really cool stuff? I also liked the fact that this book was set in 1920's New York, as opposed to Victorian England, which seems to be the normal setting for spiritualism in YA.

And in addition to spiritualism there is also illusionism (MAGIC!) involved! Right from th...more
the golden witch.
4.5/5 stars!

Guys, I loved this book. So much that I'm willing to forgive the almost-love triangle in this story. I definitely can't wait until the next book in the series, due out next year. This book brings back the roaring '20s (with its gin joints, speakeasies, dance parties and flappers) back with beautfiul, vibrant ease, so much so that when we came to the last page, I didn't want to let go. If you're looking for a new paranormal YA book that's also historical fiction, you may want to take...more
Annie
First thoughts:Okay, the second book deals with Rasputin. RASPUTIN.

COUNT. ME. IN.

Thoughts after seeing cover: Eh, it's okay. Meh. But I'll probably still have to wait until 2016 to read about Rasputin.
Sanaa
I devoured this and absolutely adored it! It has been perhaps my favorite YA books that I have read in a while now, and I cannot wait to do a video review of it because trust me I most certainly will!
Danielle
Another disappointment.
Another book with oodles of potential. .

This isnt a terrible book, but for my lack of interest and care I cant bear to rate it above two stars.

The whole magician and dash of paranormal flavoring of this book could have really worked. Really. But it just didnt.

Part of the problem lies in me. I used to adore historical fiction. Now it bores me to tears.
The writing here isnt bad; nor are the characters. Anna is pretty decent, and her mother is a piece of work. The love int...more
Kim
I enjoyed this book much more then I thought I would.

I love that it is set in the roaring 20's. Flappers, Speakeasies, Prohibition, and a lovely mystery that is wrapped up in a charlatan of a mother who poses as a medium, and her daughter who just happens to be the real thing. Did I mention that Harry Houdini is a prominent character also?

Anna has lived an interesting life. Her mother is a fraud. She conducts séance's for the wealthy and tricks them into spending their money. Unfortunately for...more
Jaylia3
1920’s NYC shimmers to life

There’s magic in this YA novel, but it’s not set in an alternate world and that’s a lot of its charm. New York City of the flapper era 1920’s is brought to life through seamlessly dropped details of daily living, lovely descriptions of dresses worn, and cameos by actual people of the time, like the great Houdini, who may or may not be the father of main character Anna Van Housen.

Anna and her beautiful mother have lived a vagabond life, earning money by performing magic...more
Kristen
Review and others on my blog My Friends Are Fiction


Actual rating 3.5
The Story:
Born of Illusion starts out with a very leisurely pace which allows the reader to soak in the time period and setting of the 1920's New York. It was a comfortable book to delve into, though I didn't feel like I couldn't put it down because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Many pages focused on developing Anna's character and delving into her relationship with her mother. The reader gets to experience how it...more
Dark Faerie Tales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: This was a beautifully weaved story of life in the 1920’s. It is filled with magic, mystery, romance, and leaves you completely spellbound!

Opening Sentence: The hair on the back of my neck prickles even before I spot him rounding the corner ahead.

The Review:

Anna Van Housen is a 16 year old girl living in the New York City in the roaring twenties. She is an assistant to her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen. Magic runs in An...more
Lauren
I have a confession to make about Born of Illusion. I got almost 90% into this story and did not care what happened to any of the characters, so I just skimmed the rest of the book. That almost never happens to me. I probably would not have even made it that far if I hadn't been reading it for a a book tour.

The 1920s are a fascinating time period to read about, and thankfully many authors are exploring it these days. With the spiritualist movement, magic, prohibition, speakeasies, silent films,...more
Rachel Bussel
There's a lot going on in this YA novel set in 1920's New York, from Anna trying to figure out if her father really is Harry Houdini, to trying to use her powers to figure out who's trying to harm her and her mother. She's had visions of disasters like the Titanic, but now the visions are hitting closer to home. Meanwhile, she has two suitors, increasing tension with her mother, and is worried about getting busted for the seances she runs with her mother, in addition to their magic shows. The pl...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
Cross-posted on Books behind Dam{n}s

Magic

Séances

Illusions

What's to not like in Born of Illusion?

There is nothing to overtly like either, IMO, except for a few characters.

Overall, though, I think the pros balance out the cons and it comes down to your personal preferences.

Anna Van Housen has lived a life of escaping, fraud, visions and performances all her life. She is the real daughter of a renowned(and fake) mother and the supposedly illegitimate one of Harry Houdini's. She does a thousand ques...more
Heidi
Three and a half stars: An interesting foray into magic and spiritualism during the roaring twenties!

Anna steps onto the stage, reveling in the audience's applause. It is when she is on stage performing that she is at home. Anna is a gifted illusionist who has a big secret. She can truly sense people's emotions and see the future. She and her mother have settled in New York, after years of running and being on the road. Things seem to finally be looking up for Anna, until the dark visions begin...more
Beth
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 he...more
Josey
First off, I adored the cover. It is so gorgeous I wanted to read it as soon as I saw it. I actually think that the cover is my favorite part of the whole book. It looks so... 1920's-y.

In case you didn't know, I love the 20's. They are my favorite time period and books written in them, like The Diviner's by Libba Bray always have an edge for me. This book was not quite as seamless as The Diviners, but It was not awful either.

Plot Summary:

Anna Van Housen is a magician, the daughter of Marguerite...more
Kate ★
I actually started out having no idea what the book was about. The beginning was so much of an introduction to Anna and her mom, both of whom are entertainers in the field of illusions, magic, communicating to spirits and the like. Only, Anna turned out to be the real deal - having visions which really come to pass, reading people's emotions through connecting with them, and even being a medium for the dead. She attributed her skills as being Houdini's daughter or so her mother claimed. She had...more
Molli Moran
Thoroughly enjoyable, Teri Brown's BORN OF ILLUSION held me...spell-bound. :) I really liked the main character as well as the "like" interest, the writing style, and the general feel of BORN OF ILLUSION. There's a very realistic portrayal of the times, and a nice little mystery. Full review coming soon.
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Sounds a bit like The Diviners, but I am intrigued ... I do love the 20's a lot and would like to read more books taking place in that era. So, it could be pretty cool.
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1055343
Well behaved women rarely make history. Teri Brown lived that quote way before she ever even heard it. The two things she is most proud of, (besides her children), is that she jumped out of an airplane once and she beat the original Legend of Zelda video game. She is a novel writer, head banger, pet keeper, math hater, cocktail drinker, booty shaker, book reader, city slicker, food fixer, French k...more
More about Teri Brown...
Read My Lips Born of Deception (Born of Illusion, #2) Born of Corruption (Born of Illusion, #1.5) Velvet Undercover

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“No matter how angry she makes me, she's still my mother, and I have to protect her if I can.” 3 likes
“Our fortunes have gone up and down over the years, but my mother has never lost her ruthless poise. Whether she's in a cheap boardinghouse in the Midwest or in the drawing rooms of the rich, she is always the same — regal, mysterious, and completely at ease. I might admire her if she wasn't my mother.” 3 likes
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