Expected publication: January 8, 2013 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
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When two beautiful teenage stage magicians in World War II England meet a pair of handsome men who can do real magic, sparks fly. But is it illusion, or delusion? Opening-night jitters are nothing new for Phil and Fee Albion, who come from a long line of stage illusionists. The girls love to dazzle London audiences, but in the aftermath of the Blitz they're bundled off to the countryside, where they're safe from bombs and Nazis--and bored to pieces.
Phil, always the passionate one, discovers a hidden college of real magicians led by the devastatingly handsome Arden. If only Phil can persuade these unworldly magicians to help England win the war! Daredevil that she is, she'll risk anything to give her country a fighting chance, even if it means losing her heart . . . or her life.
Looking back on Delusion, I'm conflicted as to really how to classify it, or what to say about it. Sullivan's tale is certainly imaginative, set against the backdrop of World War 2 - an event no one, not even our main characters could ignore. The War adds an element of unavoidable danger to the story, even as sisters Phil (Philomel) and Fee (Phoebe) are sent to live in the country, in a town that's almost impossible to find, on a map or otherwise. Here the story picks up, but despite the action, I was still left aching, wanting...something more from Delusion.
I enjoyed the characters: Phil was practical, but passionate when it came to preparing area for the War, while Fee was a hopeless romantic, dreamy and fluttery in a way that had me giggling quite often. Their hostess's son, Algernon was interesting, and Uncle Walter was eccentric, but definitely played a part. By far the most polarizing characters were the members of the school of magic, tucked away in plain site, where both Phil and Fee meet magicians who dazzle, amaze, and antagonize them. The Masters of the college were very misogynistic toward women and quite arrogant toward "outsiders," which didn't set well with me.
There are several side plots in Delusion, revolving around Phil's family and ancestors, as well as Fee's storybook romance, but the one that interested me most was the relationship between Phil and Arden. I loved their exchanges, their banter, and the attraction that slowly blossomed between them. I also thought the story arc between the dueling schools of magic was really interesting, even if I would have liked it to be fleshed out more.
I think what threw me off most about Sullivan's story is the narration. It flip flops back and forth a lot, sometimes from one paragraph to the next (this may be corrected in the final version), but the way Delusion reads...it's as if an omniscient third party is telling the story at times, and that really left me kind of nonplussed. It was difficult, if not impossible to click with the characters in an emotional way, so I never really felt like I was IN the story.
If you're looking for a quirky, not-of-the-normal story, then definitely pick up Delusion. There's a touch of romance, and a healthy dash of mystery, along with an element of sleight of hand mixed with the possibility of REAL magic. Despite the fact that I didn't love it, I did enjoy this unusual story and would recommend you check it out for yourself!
Other books by this author:
Ladies in Waiting
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