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The Illusionist's Apprentice

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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.

356 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2017

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About the author

Kristy Cambron

28 books2,047 followers
KRISTY CAMBRON is a vintage-inspired storyteller writing from the space where art, history, and faith intersect. She’s a Christy Award-winning author of historical fiction, including the bestselling novels, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN and THE PARIS DRESSMAKER, as well as nonfiction titles. She also serves as a literary agent with Gardner Literary.

Her work has been named to: Cosmopolitan Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2021, Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, INSPY Award nominations, a Carol Award final, and received a 2020 Christy Award for her novel, THE PAINTED CASTLE. She's also been featured at: Cosmopolitan, Publishers Weekly, Once Upon a Book Club Box, Frolic, Book Club Girl, BookBub, Country Woman Magazine, Jesus Calling, FaithGateway, CBN, Lifeway Women, MICI Magazine, Faithwire, (in)Courage, and BibleGateway.

A self-proclaimed history nerd, Kristy loves to chase all things research, going behind the scenes at a Ringling Bros. Sarasota mansion, touring a former TB sanitarium, making bee friends at a working honey farm, or embarking on a back-roads jaunt across Ireland being a few. She holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and spent 15 yrs in education and leadership development for a Fortune 100 corporation, partnering with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup before stepping away to pursue her passion for storytelling.

Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three basketball-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a peppermint mocha latte and a good read.

To connect with Kristy, visit: kristycambron.com

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5 stars
491 (27%)
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703 (38%)
3 stars
450 (24%)
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130 (7%)
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37 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 478 reviews
April 17, 2017
Following Houdini’s death in 1926, one of his contemporaries, Horace Stapleton, announces that he will bring a dead person back to life. Horace has been overshadowed by Houdini for his entire career and hopes his public showing on New Year's Eve will make him famous. The event becomes a tragedy when his “volunteer” dies at the performance. The FBI is called in to investigate the possibility of foul play. Houdini’s former apprentice, Wren Lockhart becomes involved when her name is found on the on the dead man’s body. With her background as an illusionist, the FBI pursues her assistance. This puts her in a bind since she is hiding many personal and industry secrets related to the case.

Wren Lockhart is reluctant to help the FBI investigate this case. She is protective of her role in the community of illusionists and she does not want to align herself with law enforcement. As events unfold, her life is threatened and she is forced to change her role in the investigation. She will do her best to uphold her promises while chasing down leads from the case.

Kristy Cambron's novel is full of suspense and weaves in many interesting characters. This book is a compelling combination of historical fiction and mystery. Wren Lockhart is a fictional character loosely inspired by Dorothy Young who was Houdini’s stage assistant for many years.

Giveaway on my blog until 4/19 https://www.facebook.com/suzyapproved...
Profile Image for Olivia.
677 reviews106 followers
April 21, 2017
Second reading:
This book <3 It's going to stay with me for a very, very, very long time! So many wonderful emotions and glorious moments. And the writing inspires me so much!
First reading:
I need to take a deep breath. A really deep breath.

Okay, sorry for the drama. This book was astounding and when I say that I mean it. I think it will be on my list of most astonishing books I've read in a long time. Having grown to love this author's writing in the last few months, I was hoping this one would be a hit for me. And it was!!

At first I wasn't sure if I even liked Wren. She's so different and not the the most womanly type of person. I don't condone all her actions (such as dressing in a suit and such), but as I read I begin to understand why she dazzled the world so much. Her illusionist life is unique, secretive, and full of sadness.

And Elliot. His first scene made me hooked from the beginning. At first it was all business in finding out the truth of a sudden death of a man at a spiritualist gathering, but as his search leads him to Wren it becomes more than that. He becomes involved in every aspect.

I loved the difference shown between illusion and magic and how the author kept the message very clear of the difference. Also, the darkness and light truth shown through the book, but especially at the end. I could have used more spiritual aspect, as usual, but the book was so amazing I couldn't lower my rating over it.

There are a few kisses in this book-some slightly detailed. Lots of emotions shown.

Lastly, this book will shock you to no end. I really sat with bated breath, shocked how the last few chapters came about. And I was starting to cry at one chapter it was that good. This book goes on my favorite 2016 reads. You will not regret reading it...just see if you can make it last more than a couple days. If I read it paperback form I might have read it in a day!

*I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Cindy Burnett (Thoughts from a Page).
565 reviews979 followers
February 19, 2017
Kristy Cambron has written an entertaining novel about an imagined apprentice of Harry Houdini, named Wren Lockhart. Houdini spent the later years of his life debunking mystics and others who alleged the ability to communicate with the dead. As the story opens, Houdini has died and one of the individuals defamed by Houdini, Horace Stapleton, is trying to jumpstart his career by appearing to bring a person back to life. Sadly, Horace’s attempt goes horribly awry causing the death of a man and resulting in Horace being charged with murder. Intensely private, Lockhart gets unwillingly drawn into solving the mystery and teams up with an FBI agent to determine what happened. Meanwhile, Lockhart appears to be the next killer’s next target.

I loved the sections related to vaudeville and illusions. Cambron includes numerous fascinating details regarding the spiritualists and illusionists of that time period which I thoroughly enjoyed. The mystery itself was fairly convoluted, and I felt the ending was unrealistic. However, I still enjoyed the book. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,827 reviews87 followers
March 1, 2017
This book was intense and I do mean intense! Full of rich historical detail , this Kristy Cambron novel had me on the edge of my seat in suspense, anticipating each new chapter. Her best work yet this is her most developed work to date and not to be missed!
Profile Image for Hannah.
2,402 reviews1,336 followers
March 4, 2018
I tried to start this a couple times a few months ago and never got past the first chapter or two. Thanks to a group read, I dove in and soon found myself entirely absorbed. Then I had the opposite problem of being unable to lay the book down at all!

The mystery of Peale and his double death soon morphs into a bigger mystery of who is calling the shots in a very literal sense. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Prohibition years and the unique character Wren is. Add to that Elliot and his fascination with Wren and her art of illusion, and we have all the elements for a good tale. The story has several shocker twists that left my mouth ajar.

I didn't care for the lack of specification about what a seance could do (for those who don't know, it is a summons of demons)...it was rather chuckled as a materialistic fraud, but the portion of the story that dealt with actual spiritualism was somewhat dismissed as being unreal. Spiritualism as a sort of religion wasn't mentioned or defined beyond using the word to describe characters and to mention seances to contact the dead as a mainstay of their philosophy. Wren and Elliot speak of faith and prayer and make a few comments about "only one man ever rose" as an oblique reference to Christ (which isn't truth anyway, since they are talking of people being summoned from death—Jesus was different because He had the power to raise up from the dead without being summoned—He Himself restored many, including Lazarus, Jairus's daughter, the widow's son, and the saints at His death). In a story so full of spiritual cloak-and-dagger, I missed Jesus. I needed to see that clear ending conclusion that the Jesus way was the ultimate answer to the claims of the spiritualists.

Also, several phrases were too modern for the twenties...most notably "gone missing," a 1990s term used more than once. "Alright" used for "all right" also bugged me.

But, overall, a beautifully written book that is worth a read and very hard to put down!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free copy for an honest review.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews787 followers
December 20, 2017
I have to admit that it was the mentioning of Harry Houdini that got me interested in this book. And, I'm glad I read the book, despite, the story taking place after Houdini's death. I found the story to be interesting and engaging, although the obvious romantic side story really didn't interest me that much.

Still, I was charmed by Wren Lockhart, and I found her to be a fabulous character. I especially liked the flashbacks to when she was younger, where we see what a terrible upbringing she had and how she came to work for Harry Houdini when she turned 16. I found the writing to be very good, and the characters came to life.

I quite liked the case. The mysterious "death" of a man raised from the dead with a note in his pocket with both Wren and Harry's real name that hinted that the "killer" wanted Wren involved. But why? This aspect of the book was great, I just wish the romantic part had been a bit toned down. Not that I disliked the romantic part, I just felt that I was more interested in the case, and Wren's part with Houdini. Still, it's a good book, and I wouldn't mind reading more books about Wren (and Houdini).

3.5 stars

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,421 followers
April 25, 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Kristy Cambron, and the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for this opportunity.

Harry Houdini's apprentice, Wren Lockhart, has grown up and become an illusionist in her own right. Now, garbed in men's clothing and bearing a name as false as the tricks she practises, she is a rising star hoping to forget her illicit past. But when a dead man turns up in another's performance, Wren is unaccountably dragged into the ensuing drama. Assisting the police in their investigations about the deceased only seem to cause more problems for the illusionist, and not even she can spirit her way out of what is about to ensue.

Whilst I found this a fascinating historical account, drawing on inspiration from the famed escapist, it didn't concern Mr Houdini, or illusions of any kind, as much as I had originally anticipated. Instead, the focus lay largely on the characters.

Their motivations and their personal movements were discussed quite minutely, which left little room for the plot to expand. I do appreciate character-driven stories, which is what this is, but I think perhaps this gave too large a focus to individual elements concerning the characters that were not of a huge interest to me. I had expected a magic and illusion heavy story, but instead this delivered dialogue and inner-monologue heavy in-depth character studies.

Well done but, ultimately, not entirely for me.
Profile Image for Rachel.
430 reviews4 followers
May 9, 2017
Just before reading this book, I determined to try to be more positive in my book reviews. It's not that I feel a desire to be less honest or that I worry about being offensive. It's more of a mental exercise for me--to see if I can write authentic yet constructive critiques.

With that goal in mind, I will not be detailing the multiplicity of flaws in this book. I will avoid dwelling on the fragmented sentences, the incongruities, the unlikable characters, the ridiculous number of plot twists in the last 50 pages and the worst grammatical error I have ever seen in print.

Instead, I will try to be helpful and, hopefully, offer some clarity on what appears to be a confusing issue. The correct phrase is, "I'd just as soon..." not "I'd just assume..." (as in, "I'd just assume talk about Irina's motivations later"). Also, the use of this phrase is meant to draw a comparison between two possibilities, neither of which is more preferable than the other. One might possibly say, "I'd just as soon reread one of my old college textbooks as read this book again."

I hope that was helpful.
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,593 reviews3,473 followers
April 17, 2017
About this book:

“Not all illusions happen on the stage.
Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.
But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind:
Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world.
Set during one of the richest, most vibrant eras in American history, this Jazz Age novel of illusion, suspense, and forgotten pasts is perfect for fans of
The Magician’s Lie, challenging all to find the underpinnings of faith on their own life’s stage.”

Series: As of now, no.

Spiritual Content- 1 Corinthians 15:55 at the beginning; Prayers; A mini-talk about a gift Wren has received (salvation); A couple ‘H’s are capital when referring to God; Mentions of God & His light; Mentions of prayers & praying; Mentions of faiths & religion; A few mentions of thanking God, the Almighty & Providence; A few mentions of miracles;
*Note: Nearly all about mentions of mediums, séances, spells, talking to/summing spirits, & bringing a dead person back to life; Many mentions of spiritualists, spiritualism & defrauding them; Mentions of magic & mysticism; A mention of bad press being damning.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: two ‘blasted’s, two ‘darn’s, and two ‘stupid’s; A bit of eye rolling; A couple mentions of curses (said, not written); Pain, blood, passing out, being shot at, injuries, guns aimed, gunfire, almost drowning & kidnappings (up to semi-detailed); An explosion & smoke (semi-detailed); Punching someone (up to semi-detailed); *Spoiler* *End of Spoiler*; Many mentions of wars, deaths, graves, bodies/corpses, killing, murders & bringing a dead person to life again; Mentions of hit men, gunfire, being shot, blood & injuries (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of hangings; Mentions of physical abuse & injuries (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of a drug & someone poisoned; Mentions of threats; Mentions of hatred; Mentions of gamblers, debts, loan sharks & cons; Mentions of alcohol, drinking, bootleggers, spiked drinks, the Prohibition & a mean drunk; Mentions of pubs, pints & drunks; Mentions of cigarettes & smoking; Mentions of lies, liars & lying; Mentions of gossip & rumors; A few mentions of thieves; A few mentions of jail & prison; A few mentions of blackmail; A few mentions of punching someone; A few mentions of a stuffed big-game cat (up to semi-detailed); A couple mentions of a hostage situation & murder; A couple mentions of crime scenes; A couple mentions of knifes; A couple mentions of a hangover.

Sexual Content- a cheek kiss, two barely-above-not-detailed kisses, and two semi-detailed kisses; Touches, Nearness & Embraces (up to semi-detailed); Noticing; *Spoiler* *End of Spoiler*; Mentions of flirts & flirting; Mentions of slang for different women & their occupations; A few mentions of kisses & touches; A few mentions of blushes; A couple mentions of men’s appreciating women’s looks; Love, falling in love & the emotions;
*Note: A couple mentions of a woman’s only talent being to shimmy around on a stage.

-Wren Lockhart, age 26
-Elliot Matthews
P.O.V. switches between them & her mother (twice)
Set in 1926-1927 {Flashbacks to 1907, 1910, 1916 & 1924}
351 pages

Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- One Star
Early High School Teens- Two Stars
Older High School Teens- Three Stars
My personal Rating- Three Stars
What an interesting book. This was my first book by this author and it had an almost a poetic style of writing. I'm not quite sure where to start on these final thoughts, so let's just jump in.
Wren. At first, I was thinking she might be a little over-the-top or very much like a suffrage woman of that time period, but she was very different. And I liked that about her. She didn't wear a men's suits to shock people, she did it to keep up her act. She was dedicated to what she was doing. She had that mysterious, independent, intriguing vibe about her. She has to be one of the more unique heroines I've read about in Christian fiction—especially as one that wasn’t set one way or another on the suffrage movement. Her personal story was quite sad though. (And mentions of the abuse brought down the ratings.) She kept her wit about her though and it was quite entertaining. I actually wasn't aware this would be a romance story, so Elliot came out of left field for me. He was interesting as well, but I would have liked to learn a bit more about him.
There wasn't an over whelming amount of faith content in this novel, but what was there came more towards the end and it was nicely done. :)
Some might take sensitivity towards all the mentions of magic, mediums, and bringing someone back to life from the dead—as those were all topics talked about and mentioned often.
Overall, in my opinion, it was a very intriguing and interesting plot. I'm curious to read some of the author's other books.

Link to review:

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
*I received this book for free from the Publisher (Thomas Nelson) for this honest review.
Profile Image for Amanda Geaney.
426 reviews268 followers
November 11, 2021
Kristy Cambron is a remarkable author with a unique voice. Ever since her debut novel The Butterfly and the Violin (2014), I've impatiently awaited each subsequent release. While I was initially intrigued by the synopsis of The Illusionist's Apprentice, I questioned how Harry Houdini and magic would play out in a Christian novel. With Cambron at the keys...the answer is impeccably well!

It's important to begin by stating the author draws a clear line between mysticism or spiritualists and the art of illusion for the purpose of entertainment. Prior to reading this story I was unaware of how Houdini worked to discredit many such frauds during his lifetime. This bit of history provides a fantastic springboard for Wren's character, a former apprentice to Houdini, who’s called upon by Agent Elliot Matthews to assist in a suspense-filled investigation of a magic act turned murderous.

As the mystery unraveled, I was irresistibly drawn to these characters and their lives. Particularly Wren, who is so delightfully complex. Over time, glimpses into Wren’s past provide insight as to why she is so guarded, contemplative, and secretive (beyond what her profession would require). The more I learned, the more I championed Elliot’s efforts to breach her defenses. The way their relationship teeters between tenuous and tender keeps readers on their toes.

In reading this story you surrender yourself to Kristy Cambron’s lavish depictions of a bygone era. With it’s clever characters and intricate plot, the The Illusionist’s Apprentice has become my second Book Club Top Pick of 2017.

With thanks to the author/publisher for providing me with a review copy. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books293 followers
February 27, 2017
Things I am disliking about this novel:

Heroine thinks it's all about her. I don't see what any of it has to do with her.

She claims she wants to bury her former self, Jenny, forever. Then why are you still on the stage? And why are you still dressing like her?

The FBI agent is not a very good agent. Wren clearly states, "...there were whispers floating around about her. She was Amberley Green though, a chorus girl on the circuit long before she met and married Stanley Dover... They say she killed a man."

Obviously there were rumors about her killing a man before she ever met her husband. So why did the FBI agent come back with a spiel about how she couldn't have killed her husband because he was miles away? This agent is either a crappy agent or he doesn't listen very well.

I'm going with crappy agent, because he has asked this Wren to help him figure out how Stapleton did his "trick" and prove he's a sham, yet he has yet to show Wren the casket the dead guy rose out of or the body itself. What is she supposed to prove??? And of course all she does is prance around in tuxedos thinking that somehow this is all about her and her past. Stapleton, Amberley, the dead guy...somehow it's all about her.

I think the perfect ending would be: she discovers that nothing had anything to do with her or her mysterious past and sister she keeps alluding to.

Note: Made it 3/4 of the way. Abandoned.
Profile Image for Rachael.
636 reviews
April 18, 2017
I have enjoyed every read by this author. This book was no exception. I love a mystery, and this book has several mystery lines. I wasn't sure I would enjoy it as this isn't an era I find enjoyable in reading, but how the illusionists presented themselves and entertained was fascinating. The plot and story were well done. The one thing that kept it from five was that I didn't really connect with the characters. In truth, tho, I don't think that's the purpose though I love that about books. The mystery of who the main character really is in her heart is a large part of the plot of the story.

So even if you don't think you will enjoy a read like this one, with time, subject matter, or plot...give it a try. I did just because of the author, and I wasn't disappointed.

I received this book from the fiction Guild. I wasn't required to write a review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
315 reviews34 followers
April 3, 2017
3.5 stars

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

At first, I had a very hard time getting into this book. I must have picked it up 2 or 3 times before it actually “stuck”, but I am glad it did because it turned out to be a really good historical fiction read. I think it took me some time to get used to authors style of writing, but eventually it all started to flow and I couldn’t stop reading it.

The story is really intriguing and not like anything I have read before. I liked the idea of Harry Houdini having an apprentice to carry on his debunking of magicians. I really liked the way the story unfolded, the pacing was excellent and the twists and turns were surprising.

This was the first book I have read by this author, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Profile Image for Jill.
264 reviews
March 16, 2017
I have enjoyed all of Kristy Cambron's previous books, but this one is by far my favorite. If you are a lover of historical fiction, I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was a great story with unforgettable characters. The chemistry between FBI agent Elliot and magician Wren was very well written. There was a slow build of romantic tension through out. I also enjoyed the back story featuring Harry Houdini and his quest to debunk the psychics of his time. I would recommend this book to fans of historical mystery and romance as well as readers interested in magicians and magic shows.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for the purpose of review.
Profile Image for Staci.
1,701 reviews518 followers
April 24, 2017
Well spun historical mystery.

Wren Lockhart is an illusionist that is very guarded about her personal life. FBI Agent Elliot Matthews seeks her help in trying to solve a crime.

This novel is both a love story and a mystery giving readers a peek into the life of an illusionist in 1920s Boston.

The mystery was well done and I didn't solve it on my own.

The Illusionist's Apprentice is evidence that Kristy Cambron has the skill to pen more than one type of history novel.

My gratitude to publisher Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy of this novel. I was not required to write a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Lydia Howe.
Author 4 books73 followers
March 22, 2017
Why I Choose this Book:

Well, it wasn't from the back cover blurb. ;) In fact, I just read it for the first time while copying and pasting it for this post. I chose the book solely because of the author - I've read her previous books; some of them have been amazing, others have left me scratching my head. I figured this book was worth a shot.

What I Thought about this Book:

It wasn't what I was expecting. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed the book, but there were some things I wasn't thrilled with.

The Pros:

The writing was wonderful
The story was intriguing
The characters felt real, they had good character development, and for the most part they remained consistent and "in character." *This is a big deal to me
No love triangle! No huge misunderstandings to prod the romantic subplot along! No overly romantic scenes! *cue happiness*
Good world building - it really came alive to me
I was sucked into the story and held fast
The historical side of the book was interesting and made me want to research that era more
The Cons:

The subject of debunking mysticism wasn't what I was expecting (because, obviously, I didn't read the back cover). It wasn't that I was uncomfortable with the subject or how it was handled, it was more that I was disappointed that Biblical truth wasn't brought into it more. I understand that the book probably isn't considered a "Christian book" and the author obviously has every right to write it whatever way she wants, but it did cut down on the enjoyment of the book for me. (And, also on how fast I'd be to recommend it to others.)
There were a few things near the end of the book that I thought were a slight bit lame - like, they didn't add anything to the book, and in a way they made it feel slightly cliché.
There were some slight things that I didn't think needed to be in the book that added to the culture feeling, but not in a way that I can condone.
There was some violence - not very detailed, but still there. Plus some immorality - although that was only vaguely mentioned. (So, it was obvious, but not done in detail at all, nor glorified in any way.)

Because of how some things were and weren't dealt with, I'm not exactly recommending the book, but it's not one that I un-recommend, either. So, I didn't agree with everything, but I did like the book and learn from it.


I’m giving The Illusionist's Apprentice 4 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10.

*I received this book from BookLook
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 3 books1,637 followers
March 1, 2018
From the world of vaudeville comes a story of illusions...

Let's begin with the negatives, so we can get them out of the way. Hang on tight through this paragraph, because what comes after is beautiful. There were gobs of choppy sentence fragments that slowed down my reading pace as I went back to hunt down missing subjects or other portions of sentences. Several times, "I'd just assume" was used instead of the common (and intended) phrase of "I'd just as soon." The faith thread came on strong in late chapters but had performed a vanishing act throughout the majority of the story. That left the heaviest emphasis on the illusion-verses-magic debate, which became redundant at times. Other content included sexual and physical abuse, pre-marital relations (off-screen but clearly understood), alcohol and alcoholism, and detailed description of tobacco products (which, of course, included tobacco usage).

All right. The good stuff awaits!

The mystery in this story might have been expected -- the book is called The Illusionist's Apprentice, after all -- yet Ms. Cambron took it beyond my anticipation. The aspects of suspense, action, and a vault-load of secrets were spectacularly entertwined, and the story unfolded with delicious detail and perfect timing, just like one of Wren's shows. While there were some things I figured out or suspected along the way, there remained plenty of surprises and twists that kept me off-kilter through the very last chapter. It was entertaining and enriching to read about the Roaring Twenties and Houdini and an eccentric woman with a knack for flair. This book just made my favorites list, and I hope to read it again soon.

When you grab a copy of this novel, prepare to be amazed!

I was not compensated for my honest review.
Profile Image for Karen R.
597 reviews70 followers
February 4, 2017
Another fabulous read by Kristy Cambron! Set in the middle of the Jazz era, when vaudeville ruled the stage, giving a glimpse behind the backstage door where many well-guarded secrets were kept. The dark side of 1920's Boston, with prohibition, gangsters, and con men, creates a dramatic backdrop for the story, with a multi-layered mystery involving the fight for justice and truth.

"Truth is the illusion we all seek."
There's a real contrast set up between the light of truth, including faith in God, versus the dark side of society that allowed spiritualists to emerge, and a dangerous con game motivated by greed and fame. The characters themselves fight their own battle for light and truth within, some learning to lean on faith, and trusting others to help them.
Wren is a wonderful, complex character, putting on one act in public, hiding her real self underneath an independent facade. It was fascinating to witness her story unfold, revealing the mystery, and her bravery in the face of dangerous situations. Inserting real people into the story, like Houdini, made the whole thing feel like it actually happened. The action really picked up and made the last half very exciting! Held my breath a few times as it all played out.

Highly recommend to readers who enjoy historical fiction with mystery, suspense, and a bit of romance!

(An e-book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest, unsolicited review.)
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,954 reviews
January 31, 2018
I have always been fascinated by illusionists and Cambron does an excellent job of bringing to life the world of illusion, the back halls of vaudeville, and the jazz era. The clever mysteries are easily woven throughout the plot without dominating it, and they are accompanied by gentle romance and a dual timeline. The dual timelines tell of the story of "Wren's" past and present and helped me understand why she had locked her heart and feelings away in the world of illusion such that she became an illusion herself. Elliot, the FBI agent, was a true hero in every sense of the word but had his faults and past that made him quite realistic. He took the time to really see the real "Wren", Jenny, and to understand what in her past had brought her to the present. He truly cared about her before ever exposing his feelings for her and never rushed her but rather allowed her to maintain her independence and persona.

The author's notes at the end of the story were an excellent addition in explaining the differences between what was real history and what was fiction in the story. An excellent historical read that was the first book to make my 2018 Favorites List.

FAVORITE QUOTES: "It's not nearly nonsense to want to do some good in the world.....We just can't
save everyone. No matter how we might want to."

"Our mother used to say that a hero doesn't always have to slay a dragon to save the day."

"Whatever darkness there is, God's light shines brighter. It has to. He's the Hero in every story--especially this one."

"Loving someone is accepting all of who she is, not just the best or the easiest parts."
Profile Image for Beth | Faithfully Bookish .
869 reviews180 followers
March 7, 2017
Full review on Faithfully Bookish http://wp.me/p7ngfE-D7

Take a peek behind the curtains at the enigmatic life of a vaudeville illusionist! The secrets of her trade are closely guarded but protecting the lessons she received from Harry Houdini could cost her everything.

Jenny Wren is a delightfully complex character with integrity, compassion, and a quiet faith. Elliot Matthews has been driven and devoted to his position as an FBI agent from the start but this case (and Wren Lockhart) is like no other!

The suspense, mystery, and multifaceted characters make this a book that is easy to get lost in and hard to put down. Although this is the first of Cambron’s titles I’ve had the opportunity to read, it will certainly not be the last!

I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through the author and publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Kate Breslin.
Author 11 books1,042 followers
March 22, 2017
After reading this fascinating story about the enigmatic and eccentric illusionist, Wren Lockhart, I likened it to a rose blooming beneath the sun, unfolding one petal at a time to delight this reader with an unsolved mystery, a touch of romance, and a cache full of hidden truths I didn’t expect—and like the woman behind the illusion, those secrets kept tightly under lock and key. Once again author Kristy Cambron paints a captivating tale with her beautiful words and gift for creating memorable characters. I truly enjoyed her fresh take on this piece of history as well; the days of vaudeville and Harry Houdini and life in New England shortly after the Great War. Readers of historical mystery, romance, and inspirational fiction will absolutely love The Illusionist’s Apprentice. As always, I look forward to more novels by Kristy Cambron!
Profile Image for KC.
2,403 reviews
March 29, 2017
1926 Boston, Wren Lockhart, the former apprentice of the recently deceased Harry Houdini, works as a vaudevillian and has a secret past. A puzzling death occurs around a performance by Horace Stapleton, a former debunked rival of Houdini's. When Wren becomes embroiled in the mystery, she finds herself in grave danger. The FBI soon become involved and try to solve the case along with the help of the illusionist. They must try and stop the criminal before time runs out. A fast paced historic mystery with a bit of romance.
Profile Image for Nicole.
Author 13 books125 followers
March 2, 2018
The first few pages of this book have the reader walking into a mystery, and each paragraph after immerses you further into a world of illusion and intrigue. I felt so captivated from the start by the unique plot, setting, and the solid characters whose layers slowly peeled back throughout the story to reveal a depth "hidden in plain sight." Very very well done. The pieces of the puzzle came together at a brilliant pace - just enough at just the right moment, but nothing too soon. I also really appreciated the Christian perspective on illusions vs. magic. I LOVED it!!
Profile Image for Stacy Wilson .
162 reviews88 followers
July 31, 2022
Excellent faith filled historical read! I'm a bit obsessed with Houdini and his fight against spiritualism. Even though he wasn't the main focus of this book, the main character shared his beliefs. I loved how strongly she was against magic and how she lived out her faith. The mystery was intriguing and I was really surprised by how it played out.
Profile Image for Jenny Q.
1,001 reviews54 followers
May 26, 2017
Giveaway @ Let Them Read Books!

I have long been wanting to read one of Kristy Cambron's novels, and I even have The Butterfly and the Violin on my tablet, I just haven't had time to catch up on the thousands of ebooks I've acquired. (Maybe because I keep acquiring more? But that's a topic for another post!) So I jumped at the chance to review The Illusionist's Apprentice. And I have very mixed feelings about it. I'm going to skip the plot recap since this is a mystery and I don't want to risk giving anything away. And the blurb does a good job of telling you what the story is about. So I'm just going to tell you what I think. And what I think is that this story had a lot of potential, but it just didn't take full advantage of all it had to offer.

For starters, the story felt fragmented to me. The narrative skips back and forth in time, with the majority spent in 1927 with the murder mystery, occasionally flipping back to various turning points in Wren's younger life. In some stories, this works very well, but in this case I felt like pieces were missing. For example, even though we are getting snippets from this time in her life, we never see how Wren ended up on the streets of London as a child, how she became an illusionist, or how she became so dedicated to her craft. I also thought it odd that a couple of the scenes from her younger life came from her mother's point of view, who has long been dead when the story opens.

I also thought the foundation was a little shaky. Elliot's reason for bringing Wren into the investigation as the only person who could help him solve the crime was never really explained. The book blurb makes it seem like Wren knows Horace Stapleton well, but we see no evidence of that. We also see no evidence of this hatred she's supposed to feel for him. I was expecting more interaction and tension along those lines. Having to exonerate someone you would love nothing more than to see rot in prison would be fine conflict for a story, but that does not materialize here.

And lastly, I found this story hard to get into. It's a dense read. Lots of words. Lots of introspection. It's very elegant, but I would have preferred as much attention paid to strengthening the plot. Fortunately, just when I was debating whether to DNF this (around page 120), bullets started flying and the plot started moving. It did keep me guessing till the end, though part of that is because nothing is revealed by way of clues until then. And when the big reveals were unveiled, I couldn't help but think that laying a little more groundwork into certain relationships, particularly by way of those scenes from her younger life that I felt should have been included, would have made it more impactful. As I said, I think this story had lots of potential. It just didn't live up to it to the fullest.

So what did I enjoy about The Illusionist's Apprentice? Well, as a hopeless romantic, I loved the tension between Wren and Elliot as these two very independent people fell in love. Watching Wren realize that perhaps she could have someone to share her life with, and watching her slowly let Elliot in, watching her let go of the rigidity and frostiness she'd held on to for so long, humanized her and made her more vulnerable. And watching Elliot see through her veneer, finding in her what so many had overlooked, was also very fulfilling. Their romance was all the more beautiful for its understatement:

Our mother used to say that a hero doesn't always have to slay a dragon to save the day. Sometimes he just walks through the fire alongside you, and that's enough.

And the writing is quite beautiful. The descriptions of 1920s Boston and the vaudeville world are vivid and evocative. The characters are intriguing. And there are many other readers who are loving this book. But for me, I just felt like I needed more of the blank spaces to be filled in and more of my questions answered to be completely satisfied.
Profile Image for Beth.
777 reviews316 followers
February 11, 2018
I've enjoyed every book I've read by Kristy Cambron so far. The Illusionist's Apprentice takes on an intriguing time in history, as well as fascinating subject matter - vaudeville illusionists, both those that admitted their trick were illusion and those that attempted to fool the public into thinking that it was real. Wren Lockhart, despite her career as an illusionist, doesn't want to fool anyone. She is however, very protective secrets, including those of her time with the famous Houdini. FBI Agent Elliot Matthews is after the truth, no matter what secrets may be uncovered. When they are brought together in an investigation, the cost of uncovering Wren's secrets is higher than either of them realize.

Wren is a mysterious character, and to be honest, I felt held at arm's length of her for much of the story. I know she is supposed to be very private, etc. but sometimes I wished that that wasn't the case for the reader as well as Elliot. Speaking of Elliot, I actually warmed up to his character more, and it was only in the last quarter of the story, when some of Wren's past is revealed, that I felt like I knew her more. I can say that this added to the mysterious tone of the story. The pacing is a good combination of suspenseful moments, interspersed with moments from Wren's past that help the reader understand her motivations in the current time. Though I did wish for a bit better connection with the characters, the plot is engaging and the story line is evocative, immersing me into the secrecy, glamour, and danger of the vaudeville world. Kristy Cambron is a writer that I will continue to follow, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books!

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Melissa (Catch Up Mode).
4,566 reviews1,871 followers
June 23, 2020
4.5 stars, TOP PICK

Cambron takes readers on an amazing journey into the world of vaudeville illusionists during the Roaring Twenties. This novel includes an intriguing mystery that adds adventure and suspense to the intricately detailed historical drama. The author obviously did a large amount of research into the subject. This shines through in the interplay of the characters and the plot, placing the reader into the story so much that the sights, sounds and even the smells of the setting come alive. Wren isn't a particularly likable character, yet as the details of her past are revealed, her actions will evoke empathy. The romance is wonderfully portrayed as well, rounding out the story with tenderness.
In 1926 Boston, Jenny "Wren" Lockhart is a female illusionist in vaudeville, a world not usually populated by women. She trained with the famed Harry Houdini, learning his secrets and helping to debunk those claiming to do real magic. She comes into contact with Special Agent Elliot Matthews when a man named Horace Stapleton, who Houdini had discredited in the past, supposedly brings a long-dead man back to life. Elliot wants to team up with Wren to figure out exactly what happened, but she is reluctant. Placing herself with law enforcement would lead to many problems for her and those she cares about. As more suspicious events begin to occur, the two realize that it is safer to work together to reveal the truth behind the mysterious circumstances.
Profile Image for Dawn.
781 reviews75 followers
May 18, 2017
This one was different than the others I've read by this author. It was more of a mystery. I was still captivated by it though! I love how rich in detail the book is. I love how Wren must decide what secrets she can share while at the same time trying to keep herself, and her identity, out of the spotlight.

I've not really thought about the way that magicians/illusionists work. This book was a fascinating glimpse into that world.

I received this book for free from the Booklook Blogger Program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Kristy Cambron

Rating - 4 stars
Profile Image for Toni Shiloh.
Author 50 books1,095 followers
March 15, 2017
Kristy Cambron is not an author you rush through. The way she creates a scene and draws you in, is nothing short of remarkable and worthy of lingering a spell. And that's exactly what I did while reading The Illusionist's Apprentice. I was completely transported to the 1920s and the world of vaudeville.

I loved the mystery aspect and Elliot is a fantastic hero! Truly, there wasn't much that I didn't like about Ms. Cambron's latest work. From the opening line (truly memorable) to the Epilogue, I was entranced.

I look forward to reading more from her.
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