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.
I’ve been wanting to read a Kristy Cambron book for a long time now. I actually first heard about this one when I filled out a survey to help choose the cover. When I read the blurb I was hooked. Like everybody, I’ve always found Illusionists mysterious and mystical. I loved how that feeling translated into the book. There was constantly an air of mystery to Wren, and it was fun to watch it unravel around her as she grew as a character
It’s very clear in the writing and romance and plot that Kristy Cambron knew exactly what she was doing while writing this. The world built around this story is vibrant and feels so real. I haven’t read a lot of stories about Houdini, but I’ve wanted too for a long time. I also liked how there was always something the characters knew that we didn’t, the last of their secrets not revealed until the very last pages.
And also THAT ROMANCE THOUGH. I literally highlighted one of the kisses because it was perfection (oh, does this make me weird?? 😉 ) the romance is slow, but expected. There’s that tension there, which build up the chemistry and lays the groundwork for actual romance. So when the romance actually does happen, it doesn’t feel ista-love-y, and it’s because we all saw it coming and shipped it.
My only complaint is that plot twists weren’t like “OH WHAT I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING, OMG OMG OMG” to me. They happened, and I was like “oh”. I didn’t see them coming, but they didn’t really wow me either. There was also the time jumps. If I was paying a lot of attention, sure I noticed them. But I do a lot of my reading while I’m supposed to be paying attention to normal things like people (ew), so I didn’t always noticed them and I kept getting confused.
All in all, it was a really fun mystery with a gorgeous romance and twists abound!
CONTENT GUIDE –
Sexual – kissing, mentions a need for a chaperone, an implied affair
Violence – abuse, shooting, kidnapping
Cussing – none
Imbibing – illegal drinking