Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Review: The Illusionist's Apprentice

". . . 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."  - Wren Lockhart


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.

About the Author:
Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, was named to Library Journal's Best Books of 2014 and nominated for RT Book Reviews' Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and for the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal's Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction) for February 2015 and a Top Pick for RT Book Reviews. Kristy holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three young sons. 
Website:  Twitter: @KCambronAuthor  Facebook: Kristy-Cambron

My Review: 4 stars
Despite the many wonderful things I’ve heard about Kristy Cambron’s books, this is the first of hers that I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  There were several things about this book that intrigued me and I couldn’t resist giving it a go.  The first to catch my attention was definitely the cover, then when I discovered it was a mystery set during the 1920s, I was hooked.  I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, except the general ideas I have for any new books, but I can happily say that it did meet those and I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Cambron’s books.
I haven’t read many books set during the Roaring 20s and I was very excited to jump into a different time.  Though I don’t know much about this time in history, the author did an excellent job of drawing me into the story and making it seem as though I was right there with Wren and Elliot, searching out the mystery and questioning what’s real and what’s just a clever illusion.  I loved Ms. Cambron’s writing style and how it drew me into the story.  Her words are almost poetic at times, with unique descriptions that perfectly fit the period.  I do confess that it took me a couple chapters to really get into the story, but once I did, I didn’t want to put it down!  I was curious about the mystery and anxious to learn how a man rose from the dead, only to keel over again moments later.  Thinking back over the story now, I am wondering how accurate the portrayal of the FBI’s investigative methods is in this story.  Granted, they didn’t have the copious amounts of modern technology that we have now, but it seemed odd that they pulled Wren in to help before they had much of anything to go on.  Though that may have been common place, given how different everything would have been from our present television shows.  Much of the story focused on Wren, her history and the person she became because of her past, while somehow also pulling the mystery along with it.
Wren Lockhart was a character that I struggled with for a while.  She’s not particularly nice, or kind, or personable.  Instead, she’s aloof, withdrawn, sarcastic, and defensive.  Not traits that are overly endearing.  But it was the glimpses of the broken person behind the mask that kept me from giving up on her.  And after learning more about her past, my heart softened toward her.  I could completely relate with Elliot Matthews, though, and his frustration with Wren’s relentless determination to be entirely independent.  I’m sure it would embarrass him to hear it, but Elliot is such a sweet guy and definitely hero material.  I loved how he continually tried to look beyond Wren’s defensive walls and see the hurting lady underneath.
Overall, this was a good story.  Would I read it again?  Maybe.  Now that I know what’s going on and don’t feel as though I have to rush to the end to find out “whodunit.”  I enjoyed the unique mystery and setting and am looking forward to finding Ms. Cambron’s previous books and diving into them.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my advanced copy of this book!  I was not required to write a review and have not been compensated for it in any way.  All opinions expressed are my own. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my review!  I'm learning to be marginally less long-winded, so that's a good thing, right?  I'm a work in progress.  :)
If you'd like to learn more about this book, there are, of course, links below.

Oh!  And I do have to just mention one last time how incredibly beautiful this book cover is!  The designers seriously did an amazing job!  A blogisphere ovation for them!  I don't know who they are, or if they even read reviews, but yay for people with that talent!  It's awesome!

I hope you find the "lovely" in this day.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love Kristy's stories. I'm sure you will enjoy her previous books as well. Happy reading!