May 19, 2015
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From the author of Entwined, a brilliantly conceived adventure through an alternate London. This sweeping, cinematic tale of an apprentice scientist desperate to save his family—and his world—is The Night Circus meets Pixar.
Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that is breathtaking and wholly original.
Illusionarium is a bit like the magical parts of Trial by Fire meets Alice in Wonderland.
The King has come, asking Jonathan's father, the renowned scientist to cure a disease. Not just any disease, it has been felling women across the kingdom and now the Queen is ill.
It doesn't matter that his father has been working tirelessly in search of an antidote already, the King demands he find the cure now. No matter the cost.
The King's desired methods pose their own risks - as does even his and the Queen's trip to their port - but Jonathan and his father have few choices in the matter. When the illness strikes closer to home, Jonathan is willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of the dangers.
Soon, he finds himself introduced to a whole new world - literally and figuratively - with more threats and danger than he imagined. When he finds out the cost, will her still be willing to do whatever it takes?
Illusionarium is such a great mix of magic, danger, steampunk and alternate worlds, family, love, and loyalty. The world(s) created are well imagined and creative, but it's the characters, their parts in the world(s) and their reaction to them that really make the book.
Jonathan is a lovable character. He'll soon be off to university, but he still admires his father, loves him mother and younger sister and isn't very good at handling himself around girls. He's sweet, he's maybe a bit awkward and all that he is willing to do, all that he's forced to do really show us (and Jonathan, himself) who he is.
The secondary characters that Jonathan (and readers) meet along the way do not, at first, seem like they're going to be such an integral part of the story. It's their growth, the development of each of them and their stories that make them such enjoyable characters as well as very necessary parts of the journey.
Even the characters I didn't like for significant parts of the novel are ones the story couldn't do without.
The more we learn of the magic, the danger, and how it all comes together,t he more you worry for Jonathan . . . and hope for him. Illusionarium is a standalone and wraps up nicely, but I can't help but hope there'll be another trip into its worlds - and with its characters - someday.
review copy received from the publisher