The Illusionist’s Apprentice
HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Published on March 7th, 2017
About The Illusionist’s Apprentice
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.
I immensely enjoyed Krisy Cambron’s book The Ringmaster’s Wife, so it was with great pleasure that I received a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice from Netgalley to review.
This book is a story of trust, healing, and renewal. We meet Wren Lockhart, former apprentice to the great Harry Houdini and illusionist extraordinaire in her own right–her best trick, however, happens to be the concealment of her feelings. We meet Agent Elliot Matthews, a jaded FBI man with a talent for finding out the truth–but can he find love? When their paths cross, get ready for sparks to ignite–and not all of them friendly.
Again, Cambron blew me away with the characters she created. Wren, Elliot, & Co. were all developed with extraordinary complexity. There was so much to each character, and so much depth in each of their interactions, that I couldn’t help but love this book. I also enjoyed seeing more of how Cambron developed the male characters in this book, as I didn’t get a good feel for that in the last.
The plot was much stronger in this one as well. The mystery was so intriguing, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! It was a dangerous tightrope that these characters walked. Suspense around every corner, and secrets lying in wait in the shadows. When the dirty past of the characters is unearthed–along with a dead/not-dead/dead-again man, prepare for your heart to stop. These poor people have been through a lot, and it’s not over yet!
The story was set in 1920s America, full of Prohibition-era crimes, hired guns, and death-defying acts from the world of vaudeville. It was the perfect setting for all that happened. I loved reading about the culture at that time, and especially the historical figures nestled in the book like easter eggs. (Bonus points for the references to Sherlock Holmes and his author!)
Wrap-up: I loved The Illusionist’s Apprentice, and it fully deserves 5 out of 5 stars. While I had hoped to see more of Harry Houdini and his shows, I quickly fell in love with Wren and Elliot and the mystery they chased. This book is chock-full of great characters, and will especially entice those who enjoyed The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill.
Most major characters appear white. One character is described as resembling a South Pacific Islander.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Wren believes in God. A Bible verse is quoted. Mentions of faith and God. Mentions of seances, mediums, summoning the dead, etc.
Characters are attacked, abused–eventually leading to death–and they get into various scrapes–all semi-detailed.
One character is an alcoholic, which leads to abuse.