Book Review: Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1) by Teri Brown

Title: Born of Illusion

Author: Teri Brown

Publication Date: June 11th 2013

Format: E-Book

 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 for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.  But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.


4 stars


I loved Born of Illusion! It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while and I’m so happy to have decided to read it at the time that I read it in. I loved the setting, the era it’s set in, and most of all, the mysterious feel of the story.

This book is about magic (not the super power type of magic but the magicians type, though Anna does have the super power type too) so it had this shroudy, dark, mysterious atmosphere. For example, when Anna is performing her stage magic, she doesn’t 100% explain how she does the trick. She explains vaguely. This helped in keeping that mysterious air and also made the book a lot more delightful to read as you are almost seeing the tricks from the audience’s point of view AND also from Anna’s.

We also never know if Houdini is truly Anna’s father and that also added to aforementioned mysterious atmosphere.

Character Analysis


Anna is one of the best MCs I’ve had the honor of being in their head. The story is set in a time where a lot of what people cared about was having fun and going to parties and, most importantly, women acting dumb. Anna was smart and she never tried to hide it. She was always on the lookout for clues. Whenever I think of something or there is some sort of clue. God this isn’t making any sense. Let me rephrase. Whenever something happens and I try to connect the dots, Anna is always on the same step as me. She wasn’t dumb and completely lost. She always thought the way I did and I loved that! Any clue that would appear, she would catch it, and try to fit it into the whole picture. We always had the same conclusions and it felt amazing. I was able to really connect with her and in my mind, she almost wasn’t fictional anymore.


I’m conflicted about her. Her behavior throughout the story wasn’t parental. She did love her daughter, I believe, but she loved her work more. What sort of mother would feel jealous of her own kid? She was always trying to be better than Anna. At some point, she also tried to get her to quit. Later on, it’s explained that she was doing that so that she can prevent Anna from doing the same mistakes that she did. In her own twisted way, she wanted her daughter to have a better life than her.


Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Cole is so mysterious, soooo swoonworthy, and shy.

To my surprise it’s Cole, holding a huge bouquet of flowers. Two blotches of color stain his cheeks and he looks so uncomfortable and boyish, I immediately forgive him.

I…..just…….how…….do…I….breathe. COLEEEEE LET ME HUG YOU TO MEE. LET’S CUDDLE RNNNNN. 



Don’t underestimate him though, he’s more than you think.

Mr. Darby

Anna’s grouchy neighbor. Also perhaps my fav character in the book. He is rough on the exterior, but actually a sweetheart. Anna won him over by bringing him food (I believe all men are won over that way 😉 ) and since then his attitude changed. He even showed her his secret (and no I won’t tell you what it is. Read the book to know!) .


I never liked this guy. There was something off about him since the beginning and I can’t believe that Anna never caught it. UGHHH he just annoyed me so much. So effing much. He’s a dramatic, slimy, evil piece of shit. Full stop.

While searching for quotes to include in this review I saw I had highlighted the following line

“I have to go,”  Owen says stiffly. “I’ve got something I have to do, but I’ll be back later.”

and had written “Please don’t” beside it. The Owen hating is real, I’m telling you.


Cynthia is one of those ditzy ladies with the floaty dresses and feathery headresses. I imagined her to look like Daisy from The Great Gatsby. I loved her carefree behavior and her personality. I loved her. She wasn’t the brightest thing out there, but what she lacked in the brains she made up for it with her heart and devotion to Anna.

She thinks I should strike out on my own and move in with her as her private spirit guide, but I gave her an unequivocal no to that dizzy idea.

Whenever Cynthia appeared in a scene you just can’t help grinning like crazy. How can you, when she makes comments like that?

“Private spirit guide”. lol.

Bottom Line

I really enjoyed reading Born of Illusion and I gobbled it up in a day. It had such fun elements, a mysterious atmosphere, and a brilliant MC. ♥Cole♥, the love interest, isn’t too bad himself. I guess that helped as well 😉 😉 . This book is part of a series and I think there is another book out now?? However, I see no need in reading the other books in the series. This book ended fantastically and it needs no sequel.

Recommended to: People who enjoy paranormal books with fantastic settings, a smart MCs and shy shy shy heroes.


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