Author: Laura L. Sullivan
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: January 8, 2013 (HMH – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: 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.
☆: 1.5/5 stars – an interesting idea, but sadly, poorly executed.
Review: Oh my. This one had a fantastic premise behind it – I can see why HMH snapped it up the way it did for a two book deal. However, the version I read in my ARC, really, really, REALLY needed a deep, good, thorough (like NaNoWriMo-worthy) overhaul of the whole thing. At least two more drafts’ worth. Which is a shame, since this was one of my most-anticipated of 2013 so far. Basically, “Delusion” is a wonderful idea, with wonderful characters and a semi-solid lovely world, but just isn’t quite up to snuff just yet for prime time.
What I fell in love with first was the idea of magic and the lingering traces of vaudeville therein within 1930s/1940s London. Give me any premise with those two elements in that time period and you’ve got me my attention as it is. The world was very slowly built, and it had the beginnings of very good and thorough worldbuilding, but then the author drifted into telling over showing, which is where we needed severe edit #1. Sullivan knows how to show when she wants to, but between the drifting into massive amounts of telling (and a certain amount of infodumping that could have been distributed a bit more evenly.
There’s also the matter of transitions – Sullivan really needed severe edit #2 here. The POV transitions can be hard, I understand that, but these transitions were really just…well, to be a bit harsh, sloppy. To be honest, I’m not sure how this got to the ARC stage of things with such confusing transitions.
However, I loved the idea of the magic college – it was like a more historical-fiction version of Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” series, which if you’ve read my reviews/the blog, I absolutely adore, and I wanted more on it. I wasn’t very keen on the insta-love that went on, and I wish that could have been left out in favor of a more natural romance. However, the idea of the magicians’ ideas aligning and being more or less with Hitler’s to show how severe they were in their ideals was absolutely brilliant, and I definitely wanted more on that.
The characters were fun – I absolutely loved Phil and Fee, and the dichotomy between them in how different they were, but almost twin-like in the sense that they were two sides of the same coin. For me, they saved this project more or less on their own, which is always a gratifying thing in such a situation. Because of them and them alone, I am tempted to read book two just to see what happens. They’re fresh and interesting yet not entirely anachronistic for their time period.
So, as you can see, a lot of pros and cons here to be weighed. I just really hope the final published version is a lot more cleaned up. “Delusion” is out from HMH tomorrow, January 8, 2013 in North America, so be sure to check it out and make your own decision about things then!