The Illusionist’s Apprentice
by Kristy Cambron
I have always been delighted by magic especially old magic from the days of Harry Houdini. There’s something about the simply magical about history of magic and I was delighted to be approved for The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron via NetGalley.
Coming off the high of reading Girl in Disguise, I was seeking another historical fiction novel featuring a strong female character and Wren Lockhart, the fictional apprentice of Harry Houdini, certainly fit the bill. Wren has a presence in the story that leapt off the pages wearing tailored suits with a gruff exterior hiding a secret past. It’s too bad that the other characters populating the page couldn’t rise to meet her and were mere cutouts fulfilling the standard mystery tropes—the angry alcoholic father, the jealous ex-friend, the lovesick cop with his own secret past and the steadfast servant.
The book struggles with the type novel it wants to be. It isn’t clear if The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a mystery, a character-driven story of self-discovery story or a Christian-based fiction novel. None of the themes comes through particularly strongly. The plot, as a whole, is action packed and keeps you reading, but the 1926 storyline did not mesh well with Wren’s flashbacks, which unfolded in a haphazard way that spoiled one of the key reveals in the story. (Let’s just say that flashbacks don’t necessarily need to happen chronologically.) As a result, at the end you are left feeling a bit let down after so much action driving towards that particular reveal. And because so much time spent trying to figure out who Wren is and why she is the way she is, which is in no way connected to her faith, which comes out at the most awkward times and never in a wholehearted believable fashion, that the who-dun-it reveal is lackluster and leaves you going, “Really? It was that person?”
Did I enjoy The Illusionist’s Apprentice? While I was reading it, I couldn’t wait to turn the page. There is action, Wren is an intriguing female character and the city of Boston and its sites come to life. The plot as a whole, looking back, fails to stick together upon closer examination. It feels as if too much was trying to be accomplished in 356 pages leaving me feeling underwhelmed at the end.
A version of this review also appeared in The Gazette. Read it now.
The Quick Book Review
The Illusionist's ApprenticeAuthor: Kristy Cambron
Published on: March 7, 2017
Genres: historical fiction, mystery, adult
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My Rating: Thumbs Down
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.