Booklook Bloggers Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

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Synopsis:

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.

Facts:

  • This book was published by Thomas Nelson
  • It released on March 7, 2017
  • It’s 368 pages
  • I got it free from Harper Collins BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for a review. My thoughts are my own, as always.

Cons:

  • It was set in the Vaudeville era (the synopsis calls Wren a ‘Vaudvillian’, which sounds so much cooler than it was. Vaud + Villian doesn’t mean a villainous illusionist, guys) so we’re talking 1920s. It didn’t feel like 1920s AT ALL. It was kind of like Ms. Cambron didn’t do any research into the time period. I wanted to smell the dust on the red velvet curtains in a vaudeville theatre and that element that I was so looking for wasn’t there. It could have easily been in the 50s or later and not much would have been different.
  • It didn’t feel like a mystery to me. The murder investigation was basically one scene in the entire book and the rest was flashbacks and running away from the bad guys. That was disappointing too since I love a good puzzle and it was SUPER easy to solve this one. The actual ‘bad guy’ reveal was kind of surprising but then again it wasn’t hard to connect the dots.
  • This isn’t a mystery writer writing a mystery story plus a little bit of romance. (which was slightly melodramatic), it was a romance writer trying her hand at historical romance plus a little mystery. In which both the history part and the mystery part were pretty thin.
  • The Flashbacks seriously confused me. Granted, I read this over a period of several weeks because I have a day job, but the first time the reader is thrown into a flashback, I got disoriented and stayed that way for a while. It would have been better to put the flashbacks in Wren’s POV only, and call her “Wren”, or refer to her more often as Jenny. OR change the flashbacks to pages in a journal, since that was a part of the Fairy Tale Book Thing anyway.

Pros:

  • There were 10 seconds of graveyard research, which was cool.
  • I liked Elliot.
  • Wren’s outfits were cool.
  • Top hats are cool.
  • Illusions are cool, and the details about the cufflinks were neat. I read a few pages thinking that they were chain links on a watch for some reason, so that was confusing. But I got it.
  • Misty graveyards are cool.

My rating: Three stars.
To purchase this book, please head on over here.

I love magic and illusions and slight of hand. What about you? Do you know any card tricks? Any disappearing acts?

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