From the cover :
[Rosie Thomas's] new novel, The Illusionists, set in London in 1870, is a thrilling step forward—a captivating tale of passion and fantasy set in the theater world.
At the start of The Illusionists, we meet Eliza, a young, beautiful woman of limited means. Eliza is modern before her time. Not for her the stifling if respectable conventionality of marriage, children, domestic drudgery. She longs for more. Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil—a born showman whose dream is to run his own theater company.
Devil’s right-hand man is the improbably-named Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. Carlo and Devil clash at every opportunity and it constantly falls upon Eliza to broker an uneasy peace between them. And then there is Jasper Button. Mild-mannered, and a family man at heart, it is his gift as an artist that makes him the unlikely final member of the motley crew.
Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked: the fortune of one depends on the fortune of the other. And as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life, which is soon thrown into peril.
My thoughts :
I was initially seduced by the stunning cover art and the comparisons of The Illusionists to Night Circus and Water for Elephants. While the latter two novels kept me awake reading late into the night, The Illusionists lulled me into sleep for more than one afternoon nap.
There was nothing specifically wrong with the story in The Illusionists. It was just dull. There are moments of glimmering magic and fear. There are a few crazy characters. However, they are few and too far between. I really wanted to like the novel but found myself skimming through long sections of drudgery. Mostly, the characters are too real. I rarely complain about that but in this story I craved mysterious enchantments. This was like having all the magicians secrets laid bare and the mysteries uncovered so that the realities are just disappointing.
Turns out, that for me, The Illusionists was nothing more than an illusion.
The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas is published by Overlook and released on June 26, 2014.
**I received a complimentary copy of The Illusionists.**