Book Reviews

Book Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

119Harry 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.

My Thoughts: I appreciated the direction Cambron took when dealing with magicians and illusionists. Upfront, her main character made it clear that she doesn’t believe in or claim to have magic. She’s an illusionist, which means she sets out to trick you, but at no point does she call upon the power of magic to perform the trick.
There are elements of magic and mediums, but the main characters are set against these things and set out to prove them wrong. Because of this, I was able to enjoy the novel without compromising what I understand the Bible to teach on these subjects.
Aside from all of that, Cambron had well-developed characters and a unique setting. But what really shined here was the mystery. It unfolded very slowly as Wren’s past comes to life. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the mystery.
The only thing I struggled with is how at times the characters seemed spiritually unbalanced. Cambron always brought them back to Christ and they always claimed to be humble Christians in need of their Savior on a daily basis, and, yet, I found them at times relying on self. This wasn’t something that characters struggled with and repented of so much as they simply forgot and then started doing it again. Other than that, I found it to be a safe story in a controversial setting. And she did an excellent job.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Illusionist’s Apprentice 5 stars and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian historical or Christian suspense/mystery.

~I received a copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

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