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Thomas Pendelton was born into wealth and prestige. He has a sensitive heart and wants nothing more than to write poetry. Instead, he is apprenticing for Neville Wighton the Great, an aging magician who has become somewhat crazed over the years in his pursuit of fame. With Thomas’ help, Wighton is about to premiere the greatest illusion seen by man, for Thomas possesses so Thomas Pendelton was born into wealth and prestige. He has a sensitive heart and wants nothing more than to write poetry. Instead, he is apprenticing for Neville Wighton the Great, an aging magician who has become somewhat crazed over the years in his pursuit of fame. With Thomas’ help, Wighton is about to premiere the greatest illusion seen by man, for Thomas possesses something no other illusionist has: real magic. Many in the theatrical world are desperate to learn Wighton’s big secret. One such magician is Paolo il Magnifico. His apprentice, Saverio Moretti, is also seeking the answer. He has a scheme to get close to Wighton by seducing Thomas but seduction turns to real feelings. Now the young men must struggle to keep the secret of their romance, as well as the secret of Thomas’ magic, as both of these things could cost Thomas his life. Through journal entries, posters, letters, and other documents, ILLUSIONS is a story of love, betrayal, and of course, magic.


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Thomas Pendelton was born into wealth and prestige. He has a sensitive heart and wants nothing more than to write poetry. Instead, he is apprenticing for Neville Wighton the Great, an aging magician who has become somewhat crazed over the years in his pursuit of fame. With Thomas’ help, Wighton is about to premiere the greatest illusion seen by man, for Thomas possesses so Thomas Pendelton was born into wealth and prestige. He has a sensitive heart and wants nothing more than to write poetry. Instead, he is apprenticing for Neville Wighton the Great, an aging magician who has become somewhat crazed over the years in his pursuit of fame. With Thomas’ help, Wighton is about to premiere the greatest illusion seen by man, for Thomas possesses something no other illusionist has: real magic. Many in the theatrical world are desperate to learn Wighton’s big secret. One such magician is Paolo il Magnifico. His apprentice, Saverio Moretti, is also seeking the answer. He has a scheme to get close to Wighton by seducing Thomas but seduction turns to real feelings. Now the young men must struggle to keep the secret of their romance, as well as the secret of Thomas’ magic, as both of these things could cost Thomas his life. Through journal entries, posters, letters, and other documents, ILLUSIONS is a story of love, betrayal, and of course, magic.

30 review for Illusions

  1. 4 out of 5

    D.M.

    Illusions is written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. Every magician wants to create the perfect performance. They want their final act to give the audience the overwhelming sense of something spectacular. Neville Wighton is no different. He learns a secret which makes his act go from mediocre to spectacular. His shows become sellouts but the secrets to his final act could be deadly. Saverio is obsessed with finding out how his trick can be done. He's so obsessed he Illusions is written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. Every magician wants to create the perfect performance. They want their final act to give the audience the overwhelming sense of something spectacular. Neville Wighton is no different. He learns a secret which makes his act go from mediocre to spectacular. His shows become sellouts but the secrets to his final act could be deadly. Saverio is obsessed with finding out how his trick can be done. He's so obsessed he starts attending every performance. He will do literally anything to work out how Neville's new tricks is done. Saverio is even willing to seduce the magicians assistant. Thomas wishes he was studying at a top school. He loves literature and wants to write his own material, poems are his forte. Thomas is special. He has a talent a magician could use and his parents choose this path for him. He becomes Neville Wighton's assistant. Thomas wants to be loved and find himself. Saverio is obsessed and willing to do whatever it takes. I have to be honest I struggled with the writing style of this book and I would recommend you try a sample before diving in. I actually read this book in two halves. The story is interesting I just wish it wasn't written in diary form. Thomas doesn't get to live his dreams he only gets to help others. Illusions is bittersweet. 3 stars out of 5. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Luupi

    Recently in October I had to watch "The Ilusionist" for school and this book reminded me of it so much but better since it has a more deep and moving love story. "And though I may still have to hide from those who would intend me harm, I can at least stop hiding from one person in particular... Myself." Illusions is about Thomas and Saverio, both apprentices of famous magicians but for different reasons. The story starts when Thomas' magician perfoms an impossible trick that makes Saverio's magi Recently in October I had to watch "The Ilusionist" for school and this book reminded me of it so much but better since it has a more deep and moving love story. "And though I may still have to hide from those who would intend me harm, I can at least stop hiding from one person in particular... Myself." Illusions is about Thomas and Saverio, both apprentices of famous magicians but for different reasons. The story starts when Thomas' magician perfoms an impossible trick that makes Saverio's magician seem less expectacular, that's why Saverio has to find a way to discover the secret and Thomas seems the quickest way to get to the magician. Obviously, there is a romance between them but it also gets dark because it is set in the 1800s when it was badly seen for people to love other people of the same gender. The first aspect to highlight about Illusions is the way it's written, instead of having chapters this book is divided by journal entrys which was amazing for me because it meant we got to see the true and deepest feelings from both of our main characters. "O, the things I tolerate to portray the ultimate illusion: love." Firstly, I loved Saverio's character. I think he was my favorite even though Thomas wasn't that far away either. What made Saverio unique was his depth, he felt so real and I was able to relate to him through most of the book. He had to deal with so many things, you know when you tell a lie and then you have to tell more lies to cover up for the first one? Well, that was Saverio's life for a long time in this book which was so sad because he's so much more than lies. "But where would I go? What would I do? And who would I be in this new place?... I have thought on my earlier questions and have come up with my answers: Anywhere. Anything. And anyone." Thomas, on the other hand, was such a cinnamon roll. So sweet and caring for everyone around him even though most of them didn't deserve it. I also loved the great development he had throughout the story. At the beginning he was so good that it made him weak but by the end he was more confident and empowered but without leaving his compassion behind. Although the magic element was very interesting, I would have liked to know more about it. This story centers around the romance and then everything else is just a small addition. That's one of the reasons this book can't have a 5 stars from me and also because the ending was kind of predictable, I only got lost for a short period of time and then I knew how the ending was going to be again. All in all, I would 100% recommend this book if you're looking for a m/m sweet and deep romance which you can't help but fall in love with them and their relationship as you see them grow. However, if you're looking for a romance/fantasy story this may not be for you since it so focused on the romance aspect.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stella (Paper Wings)

    "All's fair in love and magic." In a weird way, this book reminds me of The Abyss Surrounds Us. The two books are very different plot-wise, but they're alike in that, although they both have interesting premises, solid worlds, and exciting plots, we all know we're only here for the Gay. So. Let's 👏 talk 👏 about 👏 the Gay 👏. It's not the best romance I've ever read, but it is still so adorable. As the blurb says, one of two main characters, Saverio, begins to romance the other one, Thomas, in or "All's fair in love and magic." In a weird way, this book reminds me of The Abyss Surrounds Us. The two books are very different plot-wise, but they're alike in that, although they both have interesting premises, solid worlds, and exciting plots, we all know we're only here for the Gay. So. Let's 👏 talk 👏 about 👏 the Gay 👏. It's not the best romance I've ever read, but it is still so adorable. As the blurb says, one of two main characters, Saverio, begins to romance the other one, Thomas, in order to gain information on Thomas' magician mentor's tricks. Saverio is basically the bisexual (not confirmed bi, but pretty clear) italian magician's apprentice we've all secretly needed in our lives. Thomas is my adorkable gay poet son who just wants to be frickin' loved, and then Saverio starts to actually fall for him, and I'm just... nonexistent. For some reason I really have a thing for magician/illusionist novels, I love reading novels composed of clippings and diary entries, and the seducing-someone-for-personal-gain-turned-love trope (is that an actual trope? I hope so) is an odd favorite of mine, so this book was kind of just written for me. Illusions is a pretty niche book for these reasons though, so if those three things aren't your cup of tea, I honestly kind of doubt this will be the story that converts you. My main critique of this book would be the pacing. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, but there was very little action, the action really only picked up around the last third of the book, and it happened a bit suddenly, as if it hadn't been planned out in the first part of the book. I think it might have been better if at least the dangers had been laid out ahead of time so that there was more of a feeling of suspense. But overall I really enjoyed this book. Sometimes one needs some cute magic gays in one's life. Or maybe that's just me. I just want Thomas to turn me into a paper butterfly so I can be immortalized in a bookstore with my magician children. Thanks. "But is it so naive of me to want the type of passion I so often read about? Is it foolish to want a love that is so wholly consuming that it causes me to ache? Fate is cruel that way, showing you exactly what you want even when it cannot be yours."

  4. 4 out of 5

    books.flowers.moon

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thank you to netgalley for giving me an e-ARC for an honest review. "O, the things I tolerate to portray the ultimate illusion: love." Thomas is a gentle soul who wants nothing more than to write poetry, but he is stuck as a magician apprentice to Neville Whiton the Great because he hides a secret: he possesses real magic. Saverio is a magicians apprentice to the rival of Neville and has set out to find out how Neville does and unbelievable trick, but not for his master's profit, Saverio has a plan Thank you to netgalley for giving me an e-ARC for an honest review. "O, the things I tolerate to portray the ultimate illusion: love." Thomas is a gentle soul who wants nothing more than to write poetry, but he is stuck as a magician apprentice to Neville Whiton the Great because he hides a secret: he possesses real magic. Saverio is a magicians apprentice to the rival of Neville and has set out to find out how Neville does and unbelievable trick, but not for his master's profit, Saverio has a plan of his own and he's will to do anything for it! Set in 1898 London, both Thomas and Saverio keep journals of their lives and through them we follow the story of their greatest illusions. This is a story of love, betrayal and of course magic! ✅Historical Fiction, LGBT Romance with a mix of magic ✅Charecter driven plot with wonderfully detailed dialogue ✅Madeline J Reynolds writting style is amazing! ✅Story is told through two point of views from our main protagonists through diary entries and was beautifully done. ❌The story swapped to 3rd person right at the end and i was a bit confused but once I realised what had happened it didnt matter. I can't express how much i loved this book! Reynolds writting style is amazing. She has become an instant buy author for me. It took me maybe 3 chapters to get into the rhythm of the diary entries but after that i was hooked. I was expecting the story to be about 2 men who were rivals and tried to outdo each others magic tricks. What i got was an amazing love story that was so beautiful and emotional, a coming out story, a devestating betrayal and the grandest illusion. Though the story follows both young men's journals and it tells the events in past tense (and yes, it is overly detailed for a journal entry but this is fiction not real life) this never takes anything from the story, in fact I think it made it more gripping! I dont want to spoil the story for anyone because i will be recommending this book to EVERYONE so i wont say any more, but this is one of my favorite books ive read this year and i cant wait to see what Reynolds writes next! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    3.5* I was intrigued by the blurb for Illusions, (which I see has now changed on the retail sites), not having read too many books about magicians. And while I did enjoy the story and it had great potential, it didn’t turn out to be quite as entertaining as I had hoped. I didn’t actually mind the way the story was told through the journal entries of each character, and that may be because there was a lot more detail to them than what you’d normally expect to find in a diary format. The beginnings 3.5* I was intrigued by the blurb for Illusions, (which I see has now changed on the retail sites), not having read too many books about magicians. And while I did enjoy the story and it had great potential, it didn’t turn out to be quite as entertaining as I had hoped. I didn’t actually mind the way the story was told through the journal entries of each character, and that may be because there was a lot more detail to them than what you’d normally expect to find in a diary format. The beginnings of each of the longer entries (chapters) started as if someone was writing in their journal, but then morphed into more of an actual narrative as each section progressed. That led to me wondering why it wasn’t just written in alternating point of views, instead of the hit and miss way with the journals. It took me a bit to get pulled into the story- it really wasn’t until the last half of the book that I was truly invested. To be honest, the first 50% or so dragged. I know the set up was necessary, to get to know Thomas and Sav, but nothing really happened except for a few minor surprises. There were a couple of times I did think of waving the white flag, but by the end of the book I was glad I had stuck with it, because Thomas is one of those endearing characters that you want all the good things to happen to/for. Ms. Reynolds threw in a few twist and turns that were unexpected and that helped win me over in the end. ***Thank you to Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Jacobs

    I LOVED THIS BOOK, THIS STORY WAS BREATHTAKING ( I mean that quite literally, as a few scenes had me crying and therefore I had no breath) This book sunk into my soul and made me feel everything I was meant to. Illusions Is about two magicians apprentices, one that is trying to steal a secret of the greatest trick ever done. And one that wants love. This book is almost fully written in journal entry format. At first I love and hated that. Loved because I always love when there are journal entrie I LOVED THIS BOOK, THIS STORY WAS BREATHTAKING ( I mean that quite literally, as a few scenes had me crying and therefore I had no breath) This book sunk into my soul and made me feel everything I was meant to. Illusions Is about two magicians apprentices, one that is trying to steal a secret of the greatest trick ever done. And one that wants love. This book is almost fully written in journal entry format. At first I love and hated that. Loved because I always love when there are journal entries in books. And hated because the scenes were so good I just wanted more!! Thomas and Sav's voices are completely different in tone and style so you are never confused, even though the name is there, of who's entry you are reading. The humor and emotion that was in this book was phenomenal. I'm almost at a lost of what to say. I loved this story so much and I adored Thomas, sweet sweet Thomas, and loved Sav, funny Italian Sav. This book reminds me of a fairytale In a way, now that I've finished I'm just sitting here like, "man that was amazing, that was so good, that was a fairytale." Only like a 1800 fairytale with magic and boys. I don't want to talk about the over all plot or go into specifics because that would take away from your first time reading, but man do I really feel like I just watched two peoples lives unfold. I can't wait till this book is out in physical format because it will be mine to love to cherish. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this before its release, all opinions are my own and my opinion is BUY THIS BOOK.

  7. 5 out of 5

    becca

    "Yet all my life, ever since I had a concept of what I am and how different I am from the world around me, I have searched and scoured for any sign that magic exists somewhere, with other people, but my searches have proved fruitless. If there are others who wield such talents, they have done a magnificent job of keeping that fact hidden. Just another sign that I must do the same." First of all, thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for sending me a digital ARC in exchange for my honest "Yet all my life, ever since I had a concept of what I am and how different I am from the world around me, I have searched and scoured for any sign that magic exists somewhere, with other people, but my searches have proved fruitless. If there are others who wield such talents, they have done a magnificent job of keeping that fact hidden. Just another sign that I must do the same." First of all, thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for sending me a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. Illusions is about two magician's apprentices, caught deep in a web of magic and secrecy. Well-known magician Neville Wighton has gained a place in the international spotlight by debuting a trick where he vanishes into thin air, with the secret help of his apprentice Thomas. Thomas is used to keeping his magical abilities well hidden. But the appearance of Saverio, a handsome young man with motives of his own, threatens to reveal Thomas to the magical community, and to the world at large. One boy would do anything to keep his secret, and the other would do anything to find it out. But what happens when they begin to feel something far beyond enmity, or even friendship, for each other? If I'm being honest, this was a difficult read for me. The romance is lovely and the story has its merits, but I couldn't find a single reason for it to be told almost exclusively in journal and letter format. If anything, this decision shot the story in the foot - it removed all suspense from the narrative, and brought the reader so close to the characters that it felt claustrophobic. First person narration written in traditional prose, or even third person, would have been better. Maybe the settings would have retained more life, the descriptions not so rushed. There was also the added frustration that the characters knew how each scene ended before they even began describing it - and so did the reader. All things considered, this story has promise. But the format was distracting and counterproductive enough to take a lot away from the lovely characters and positive message. While positive LGBT+ representation is always a good thing, Illusions could have done it better.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)

    I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Entangled Publishing, LLC. Trigger warnings: physical abuse, emotional abuse, homophobia. Thomas is a magician’s assistant with a dangerous secret: the magic he performs is real. Saverio is the assistant of a rival magician, and he’s been tasked with unraveling the secret of Neville’s newest trick. Somehow, the man is able to disappear into thin air and reappear on the balcony. He decides to get close to Neville’s assistant in order I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Entangled Publishing, LLC. Trigger warnings: physical abuse, emotional abuse, homophobia. Thomas is a magician’s assistant with a dangerous secret: the magic he performs is real. Saverio is the assistant of a rival magician, and he’s been tasked with unraveling the secret of Neville’s newest trick. Somehow, the man is able to disappear into thin air and reappear on the balcony. He decides to get close to Neville’s assistant in order to learn the secret, but Thomas has a sweet charm of his own. Before long, Sav is more concerned with winning his heart than stealing his trick, but how can he convince Thomas that his affection has been genuine all this time? More importantly, how will he protect Thomas from a magician who will stop at nothing to maintain his reputation? I don’t think epistolary style was the best choice for this novel. In the first place, it isn’t done very well. Other than the occasional poem, there are few style changes between Sav’s writing and Thomas’s, so it doesn’t feel like I’m peering in on the private thoughts of either character. There’s also the matter that no one remembers that level of detail or specific dialogue in their writing, so it never feels authentically like a journal. I could probably get past that, except that it’s also constantly dragging at the pace. Instead of being directly in the scenes, we’re frequently being pulled out of them and reminded that we’re reading someone else’s interpretation of what happened. Unfortunately, the characters’ innermost thoughts on the events don’t bring a lot to the story. It made it difficult to get invested in what was happening. That’s not to say much does happen. The magician angle that drew me to the novel is sadly underplayed. Thomas hates magic; it takes him well over half the book to start practicing, and Sav is never actively on the page with his magician mentor. We never once see him perform or practice an illusion. In a novel almost exclusively about magicians, there just isn’t enough magic. The plot is highly character focused instead, and the actual conflict isn’t apparent until well over halfway. For readers who don’t mind introspective character books, this won’t be a problem, but it’s not for readers who prefer fast-paced or complicated plots. The two main characters aren’t bad, although the side characters are mainly caricatures of villains–which is fine, because this story isn’t about them. Sav is a charming playboy who’s sworn off love, and Thomas is a shy poet with little life experience and more than one secret that could get him killed. The character development is well done on both sides. I preferred Thomas learning to stand up for himself to Sav overcoming his fear of love, but only because it felt slightly more original. The pretend-romance-becomes-real-romance trope is strong, but it’s a cute one. I enjoyed watching their relationship progress. I dislike the fact that homosexuality is illegal in every historical fantasy novel ever (magic is real, but we can’t imagine a world where LGBTQ+ people aren’t persecuted?), but it ends up playing a distinct role in the plot. The last quarter of the book is faster and more suspenseful as there’s finally a conflict outside of the characters’ relationships. It becomes clear why the journal format is necessary, which resolved a few inexplicable things about the writing (why Thomas’s journal switches randomly to second person, why the last section of the book abandons the journal format and moves to plain narrative–I guess), but I’m not sure it’s enough to justify the damage it does to the pace. I think I would have felt more connected to the characters without it. Reynolds never really had me fooled with the ending, but I didn’t want to be. All in all, Illusions is a cute, fluffy gay romance that’s high on tropes and low on drama. It doesn’t bring a lot of new things to the table for either magician stories or romance, but there are thousands of hetero romances out there that are cut from the same cloth. I see no reason not to write and read another thousand of the same stories with more diverse representation. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Banks

    I received this book for free from YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Welcome back lovelies! You're going to love today's feature Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. It's a historical m/m romance with a touch of literal magic. My 5 star review is below along with a tour wide giveaway for TWO copies of Illusions! ABOUT ILLUSIONS ABOUT ILLUSIONS'S AUTHOR IMHO: ILLUSIONS Content Warning: Abuse, Homophobia, Hate C I received this book for free from YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Welcome back lovelies! You're going to love today's feature Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. It's a historical m/m romance with a touch of literal magic. My 5 star review is below along with a tour wide giveaway for TWO copies of Illusions! ABOUT ILLUSIONS ABOUT ILLUSIONS'S AUTHOR IMHO: ILLUSIONS Content Warning: Abuse, Homophobia, Hate Crime, Depression, Public Execution Told in alternating journal entries & poems by Thomas in between Immediately engaging and swept me away, very easy to imagine and slip into Could NOT stop reading. Pacing and flow is perfect. Did have to flip back to check out the dates  as I was reading because I kept losing the time frame & dates, but that's a personal problem Journal entries were AMAZING. I love what was included and what was missing, leaving some to the imagination and between the lines. Voices and styles are very distinct for each narrator. I love their getting to know each other and following romance. Thomas is an adorable cinnamon roll poet while Saverio is dashing, and mischievous. Saverio kinda reminds me of Flynn from Tangled, TBH. I can totally see him doing "the smolder"  There's no real explanation or world building in regards to the magic, it's about their relationships and the now. I'm cool with that personally. But don't go in expecting a ton of witchiness or spells or details. Did not see that twist coming. Honestly thought it was going another way. CRIED at the end. While in public on the bus. Embarrassing but so damn good. Perfect for fans of Timekeeper by Tara Sim with less focus on the magical/paranormal aspects and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, with a little bit of magic.   ILLUSIONS GIVEAWAY Two print copies – US only a Rafflecopter giveaway ILLUSIONS BLOG TOUR  This review was originally posted on The Layaway Dragon

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex (Briennai)

    I came to this book expecting an exciting story about the lives of magicians entertaining people in the late 1800s. As someone who loves stories about old show business, I just KNEW that I was going to love this one. What I got was so much more than what I could have ever dreamed of.  When I started reading the novel, I was reading chapters flipping back and forth between Thomas and Sav's diary entries. They hadn't met yet, and I wasn't sure when they were going to meet. All I knew was that they I came to this book expecting an exciting story about the lives of magicians entertaining people in the late 1800s. As someone who loves stories about old show business, I just KNEW that I was going to love this one. What I got was so much more than what I could have ever dreamed of.  When I started reading the novel, I was reading chapters flipping back and forth between Thomas and Sav's diary entries. They hadn't met yet, and I wasn't sure when they were going to meet. All I knew was that they were both magicians apprentices and that the magicians the boys worked for were competing against each other. Then, they cross paths. Thomas starts wanting to talk to the mysterious stranger who keeps coming to his shows, and Sav needs to know how Thomas and Neville pull off their disappearing trick. Sav never plans to fall for Thomas, and Thomas definitely doesn't plan on falling for him. But they do, and Sav has to decide whether to abandon his master and stay with his magic boy, or to reveal Thomas' secrets and ruin his life.  I haven't read any LGBT Victorian romance novels, so I didn't know what to expect once I saw how romantic that this was getting. It was interesting to see their relationship dynamic, and how almost freeing it was for them. Without the internet, they were able to keep more under the radar of the local homophobic citizens. They could just stay in their flat or go on dates at night, and barely anybody would be out to see them. It seemed like a normal YA romance novel, except I thought that Thomas and Sav had more chemistry than most YA couples usually do.  Thomas has magic, but I felt that his magic could have been explored a bit more. The book never explains why Thomas has magic, how he found out that he had magic, and how he was able to use/control his powers. The story was still long without this bit of filler, but I would have liked to know a little bit more about how his powers specifically worked.  Sav also has a "rags-to-riches" backstory that is mentioned a few times in the novel, but is again never explored in depth. Since the book was set up in diary format, I think that there were opportunities for Sav to reflect on his past more.  Even though the book didn't discuss the characters' backstories as much, the characters' current personalities were developed in amazing ways. Thomas was a shy apprentice, but he got stronger as he fell harder for Sav and continued to help Neville in his performances. The outcome of the performances reflected his emotional state. When he was upset, the performance didn't go well. When he was happily in love, the performances went perfectly. Same with Sav. He started the story being strong, stoic and refusing to open up to Thomas. He had to learn how to break out of his shell, opening up to and trusting Thomas.  There was just so much depth to this book. I have never read a book about show business or magic shows just like this one. I would literally recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction, or YA LGBTQ+ romance. I received an advance copy of this book, and this is my voluntary review. 

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    An interesting idea and an overall okay read that dives into the world of love and magic. “Illusions” sets up a struggle between two rival magicians as one succeeds at doing the impossible causing the other to send in his apprentice as a spy to uncover just how he was able to pul off his latest trick. This is very similar to the idea behind “The Prestige” only with real magic and instead of trying to outdo the other we have one trying to uncover the secrets behind the illusion only to find that An interesting idea and an overall okay read that dives into the world of love and magic. “Illusions” sets up a struggle between two rival magicians as one succeeds at doing the impossible causing the other to send in his apprentice as a spy to uncover just how he was able to pul off his latest trick. This is very similar to the idea behind “The Prestige” only with real magic and instead of trying to outdo the other we have one trying to uncover the secrets behind the illusion only to find that he’s gotten more than he bargained for when he meets the man behind the mystery. It took me a long while to get into this book which is unfortunate because on paper I should love this even the choice to have it told through diary entries and newspaper clippings add something exciting to the format of the story but with this it fell kind of flat for a majority of the book. The romance side was nice and I think for both sides it progressed naturally for their characters as one struggled with the conflicts of the time in which they lived and the other with his firm stance against love due to his questionable past with the emotion and it was nice to see their back and forth monologues through their entries as the relationship moved forward. If I had to sum this book up it would just be okay, it’s nothing too memorable but to pass the time it works.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laila

    Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for giving me a copy of Illusions in exchange for honest feedback. I really enjoyed this book. I would call it mature YA with a hint of fantasy. The story follows Thomas and Saverio, the apprentices to two rival performing magicians. At the start of the book, Thomas's employer reveals what seems to be an impossible stage trick. When Thomas and Saverio meet by chance, the instantly smitten look on Thomas's face leads Saverio to form a plan for disco Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for giving me a copy of Illusions in exchange for honest feedback. I really enjoyed this book. I would call it mature YA with a hint of fantasy. The story follows Thomas and Saverio, the apprentices to two rival performing magicians. At the start of the book, Thomas's employer reveals what seems to be an impossible stage trick. When Thomas and Saverio meet by chance, the instantly smitten look on Thomas's face leads Saverio to form a plan for discovering the secret to the trick. Illusions is written in the form of diary entries, which I liked because it gave the characters of Thomas and Sav distinct voices. I found myself hooked to the storyline and eager to read on. I liked the characters and the LGBT+ romance was very sweet. The book has an interesting take on magic, while mostly staying rooted in the real world. I will say that the majority of the plot was predictable from reading the description, and it felt a bit repetitive at times in the middle. But I really liked the ending, and it was a fun, easy read overall. I would definitely recommend this to YA readers, especially if you like books about magicians.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    This is one of those books where I like the story, but the writing just didn't thrill me. Illusions is told in a series of journal entries from two boys, Thomas and Saverio, who are both apprentices to competing illusionists. Sav is tasked with finding out how Thomas's master, Neville, is getting away with an incredible trick. The journey diverges, though, when Thomas and Saverio inevitably meet. The story is good and the characters are fun to read; I truly did love getting to know them. The wri This is one of those books where I like the story, but the writing just didn't thrill me. Illusions is told in a series of journal entries from two boys, Thomas and Saverio, who are both apprentices to competing illusionists. Sav is tasked with finding out how Thomas's master, Neville, is getting away with an incredible trick. The journey diverges, though, when Thomas and Saverio inevitably meet. The story is good and the characters are fun to read; I truly did love getting to know them. The writing, however, made it tough for me to want to keep reading. I'm already not a fan of books told in journal-entry format, but I gave this one a go anyway. It took me a while to get oriented with the style, though I'm not sure I ever was fully used to it. I wish the writing, too, was just a tad better. I recognize that with a journal-entry format we're hearing about events after they've happened, but I just think the overall writing could have been stronger. All in all, I enjoyed the story told, though I wish it hadn't been told through these journals. I received an ARC of Illusions in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karyl Ahn White

    Illusions by Madeline J Reynolds “And here I was thinking I wouldn’t have any fun in London” My favorite line from the ARC. I really enjoyed this book though it was a bit surprising. It was almost as if you’d climes I to your grandparent’s attic and finding a collection of diaries, letters, news clippings etc. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say there is interesting and unusual premise to the novel. There is romance which is beautifully written and so very heart touching that I find Illusions by Madeline J Reynolds “And here I was thinking I wouldn’t have any fun in London” My favorite line from the ARC. I really enjoyed this book though it was a bit surprising. It was almost as if you’d climes I to your grandparent’s attic and finding a collection of diaries, letters, news clippings etc. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say there is interesting and unusual premise to the novel. There is romance which is beautifully written and so very heart touching that I find myself tearing up at times. And the magic! What a fantastic element! I think more than anything, this is a love story set in a backdrop of magic. It is definitely a fantasy fiction. And wondrous at that. The only critique I might add is that the way it is written- I found very interesting, but towards the end some third person comes in and takes over the narrative. That was confusing to me. But overall it wasn’t Such that it deterred me from falling in love with this story. I feel it is concluded in a way that leaves an opening for a second book, which I would definitely read. There are some triggers such as sexual and abuse that would make me want to warn younger readers or others who may not be able to read such things That being said, I still give this book 5/5 and would highly recommend it. This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This review or portions thereof, will be posted on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as Litsy, IG, B&N, Pinterest, Facebook, and my own blog. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide all links at this time, as I am using my phone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    take two magician's apprentices, in victorian london, and have one performing in a magic show with an inexplicable illusion and the other out to figure out how it's done, and you have the barebones of this story. illusions is told from the perspective of the two apprentices, thomas and saverio, through their journal entries and correspondence. we learn that thomas is hiding a huge secret, he is the explanation for the magician's tricks. he possesses a real power, magic to transform and alter peop take two magician's apprentices, in victorian london, and have one performing in a magic show with an inexplicable illusion and the other out to figure out how it's done, and you have the barebones of this story. illusions is told from the perspective of the two apprentices, thomas and saverio, through their journal entries and correspondence. we learn that thomas is hiding a huge secret, he is the explanation for the magician's tricks. he possesses a real power, magic to transform and alter people's perception of the world around them. the how and whys of his magic are irrelevant to the novel, he simply possesses it and we accept it. it manifests physically and visually. when thomas and saverio quite literally run into each other in manchester square, sav notes the interest in thomas's eyes. interest that he has no problem exploiting for his own gain. but the more time he spends with the younger, innocent man, the more he finds him appealing. thomas might be green, but something about sav makes him daring. and this strength allows saverio to let go of some of his walls and fall headlong in love with thomas. there are obstacles to be overcome. the magician thomas is apprenticed to has a hold over him that seems impossible to esccape from. there's also the issue of saverio's lies. and thomas' parents' selling out of their only child. but the way this story finds a way for thomas and saverio is so beautiful. i couldn't put this down. when it ended i was just swooning. **illusions will publish on november 6, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The premise of this book is great. This is why I wanted to read this book. It would have been really good if the story had started out with the one scene towards the ending as the starting point of the story and then made its way backward. Due to the layout of the story being all in journal format. This way I would have been sucked into the story quicker. Not that I wasn't interested in the story but it just took me a bit longer. Also, it didn't help that I found the pacing of the story to move The premise of this book is great. This is why I wanted to read this book. It would have been really good if the story had started out with the one scene towards the ending as the starting point of the story and then made its way backward. Due to the layout of the story being all in journal format. This way I would have been sucked into the story quicker. Not that I wasn't interested in the story but it just took me a bit longer. Also, it didn't help that I found the pacing of the story to move slowly. The second half of the story picked up speed. In regards, to the two dueling illusionists Neville Wighton the Great and Paolo, they played second string to Thomas and Saverio. Thomas and Saverio were the voices of the story. Thomas really intrigued me. A man of mystery. Saverio is like the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who falls for the rich boy. The romance between them was real and mature. Nothing childish about it. The story does end on a high note.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Brunskill

    I really enjoyed this book! It was a wonderful mixture of magic, romance, and really excellent writing. I loved how distinct the voices of the two boys were, and how genuine their connection felt. My two thumbs, they are both up.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    At first, I was not sure that I would enjoy this book since it is written completely in journal format and I typically cannot get into this writing style. This was not the case when it came to Illusions! I was absolutely entranced within the first few chapters. It is such a beautiful story set in 1880s Europe, with two very compelling main characters. First you have Thomas, who is a sweet young man that loves his poetry and has a secret that if found out could put his life in jeopardy. Then you At first, I was not sure that I would enjoy this book since it is written completely in journal format and I typically cannot get into this writing style. This was not the case when it came to Illusions! I was absolutely entranced within the first few chapters. It is such a beautiful story set in 1880s Europe, with two very compelling main characters. First you have Thomas, who is a sweet young man that loves his poetry and has a secret that if found out could put his life in jeopardy. Then you have Saverio, who has had a tough life and wants nothing more than to be center stage. I loved the fact that there were alternating perspectives because you are really able to get an insight into both characters and their mindsets. From this you also get to see the growth in both Thomas and Saverio. Overall, this book was a magnificent read. A truly wonderful and emotional LGBT romance that will keep enthralled until the very end. This book ruined me in the best way possible and I would definitely recommend reading it. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for giving me the chance to read and review this book early!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Briana

    I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was very hopeful and excited for this book and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it immensely. The synopsis intrigued me, as I thought it had a similar premise to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, where a couple of magicians take on apprentices in a competition to see who would win in magic and skill. While Illusions did not have such a competition, it did have the same air of mystery, I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was very hopeful and excited for this book and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it immensely. The synopsis intrigued me, as I thought it had a similar premise to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, where a couple of magicians take on apprentices in a competition to see who would win in magic and skill. While Illusions did not have such a competition, it did have the same air of mystery, intrigue and wonder that I wanted from such a book. The story focuses on two main characters: Thomas Pendleton, son of a wealthy banker, aspiring poet and magician’s apprentice, who also harbours a dangerous and life-changing secret; and Saverio Moretti, apprenticed to the magician Paolo il Magnifico whose dream is to take center stage in his own act of magical tricks and illusions. The story is told in the format of a historical account of the events that transpired over the course of the book, with the author using journal entries from both characters, newspaper articles, and third person narrative. Through alternating journal entries we see the interactions between both Thomas and Saverio and their views, emotions, and thoughts of each other. Saverio wants to use Thomas to gain knowledge and fame in the world of magic and prestidigitation (had to look that one up), and Thomas seeks a friend, and perhaps more, who keeps him on his toes with mystery and intrigue. Both characters have gripping and engaging arcs throughout the story, going from player and pawn to being romantically involved, then having to deal with tragedy and loss. It was such an engaging read that I found myself finishing it in one weekend. SPOILERS It took a few chapters to get into the narrative style of the story. I was never under the impression that journal entries were so detailed, but as the story progressed it got much easier to keep up with the journal/diary formatting. The dates sometimes got lost on me but the timeline was simple enough to follow. With the trick Thomas and Neville were performing, I would have liked a bigger build up for the trick on the night of the performance. More about the characters' feelings and expectations about the feat. The quick "it worked" from Sav, and Thomas’s explanation of the stunt, weren’t quite the build up I was hoping for with how much emphasizes the story put on it. I was drawn to this book with the premise of it being a story of infiltration and and flirtation, and that was certainly to be found. Saverio is a very suave and charismatic character, and it shows in the interactions between him and Thomas. Sav leaving tokens behind with only an initial to go by, and taking Thomas to new locations was fun to read about. I loved reading about their interactions and getting vivid details from one or both of them was always satisfying and indulgent in some cases. I was happy that the romance played out over a span of months rather than a few weeks and that I was able to see the growth and evolution of these characters. The only issue I took with this story was with the narrative in the last third of the book, after Thomas’s death.Saverio stops writing and the author picks up where he leaves off, writing the remainder of the book in third person, instead of the first person narratives that I had become used to over the story. I felt that this was unnecessary and even inconsistent with the way the story was being told. The formatting of diary and newspaper entries is just suddenly changed to third person with no note from the author. We do get a note in the introduction mentioning that the journal and newspaper entries were primary sources that detailed the events of the story, so why do we suddenly get a third person perspective with no mention of transition or how the narrator came to know these facts? It felt very inconsistent and despite my love of the story and characters it was something that I could not ignore. When reading a passage it felt like someone was intruding on a private moment since the perspective is not from one of the main characters. I think it would have gone better if Sav had decided to write down his findings whenever he spotted another clue from Thomas, and then chronicling his journey all over Europe to find him. With Sav writing down the findings in his diary to keep track of them, it would help the reader not to think the character as going completely mad over such small details. I was frustrated with not understanding how Thomas’s powers worked or what the rules were, yet I feel that might just be part of the magic trick of this book. I felt the same way when Sav finds Thomas alive in Bruges, Belgium. How did he track Thomas all the way to Belgium when they had never spoken of it? And what has Thomas been doing for the past few months? Such is the art of magic and secrets I suppose…. Some other ideas that came to mind after completing this book were that I think it would have been interesting to also include other records, such as the detective's file against Thomas and the witnesses who came forward to testify. Maybe even a redeeming moment for Thomas's parents, trying to speak up for their son and make amends? These are just ideas I thought might add some dimension to the side characters who seemed one-dimensional and could have used some empathetic qualities. Overall I found this book to be an excellent read. It was thrilling and entertaining and I was entranced throughout most of it. It was a great LGBT read and one that I would recommend. Favorite quotes:”I read somewhere that boredom is the desire for desires.” “O, the things I tolerate to portray the ultimate illusion: love.” “Most of what I wrote was pure drivel-even the inspiration that has come from being in love does not always produce the most masterful of art.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lenore Kosinski

    https://celebrityreaders.com/2018/11/... I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion. 4 stars — Guess who has a crying headache now? Oh, that would be me!!! I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this one, as it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse in a couple of ways: a) I don’t tend to read historical; and b) it was written as a series of journal entries, which I wasn’t sure I was going to like. But that blurb just sucked me in, you know? Which, I must s https://celebrityreaders.com/2018/11/... I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion. 4 stars — Guess who has a crying headache now? Oh, that would be me!!! I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this one, as it’s a bit out of my wheelhouse in a couple of ways: a) I don’t tend to read historical; and b) it was written as a series of journal entries, which I wasn’t sure I was going to like. But that blurb just sucked me in, you know? Which, I must say, now that I’ve read the story, I feel like the blurb is kind of misleading. I kept expecting something because of the blurb, and maybe I’m just not thinking correctly, but I don’t feel like the blurb *quite* fits into the story. Regardless, though, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. Since this book was outside the norm for me, I was super reluctant to start it. But once I did, I became intrigued. And the further along I went, the more invested I became in the story and our characters. I’m not sure if the way the story was told (through journal entries, and the occasional newspaper clipping, etc) was actually necessary. Part of me says yes, definitely. Part of me felt like the journal entries didn’t always feel like real journal entries. It was like the author was trying to stick to that, but occasionally it felt more like narrative. But honestly? In the end it didn’t matter to me, because my love for Thomas and Saverio overshadowed everything else. Thomas broke my heart so many times. He was so shy and nervous, and struggling with so much. And seeing all those people using him was just disgusting. He had such a sweet, pure heart that it just made it worse. But I did love seeing him grow throughout the story, build confidence, and become more self-accepting. Saverio took a bit longer to get his hooks into me. Which is not to say I disliked him at the beginning, but I was wary of him. Even with what we know of how he grew up, it was still hard to watch him being so cold and almost mercenary. But I think that made his slow fall that much more satisfying, and believable. If the turnaround had been abrupt, it wouldn’t have felt authentic. I even appreciated the occasional missteps he made after falling for Thomas, because that was believable too. I thought it was interesting how Sav was fine with his sexual preferences, even at that time. It was so different from Thomas… It was SO HARD to read about the way they had to hide their love in that time period. I mean, I know it’s hard to be gay in the here and now, but I can’t even FATHOM how hard it would have been back then. BUT their romance was so sweet and beautiful, and I just truly felt their connection to one another. This book truly took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. I had no idea where we were going to end up, but I was satisfied when I got there. On a side note, I will admit that this book didn’t feel young adult to me. It wasn’t that it was explicit or anything, it just didn’t feel “teen” to me. But honestly, as an adult reader, I’m not sure I know what YA is anymore. So yeah. I went into this one with trepidation, and it surprised me in all the best ways.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Farr

    "Illusions" was an enthralling historical romance with supernatural elements. The premise set up at the beginning of the book is that we are reading the historical documents held by the London Metropolitan Archives- diary entries of Thomas Pendleton and Saverio Moretti (translated), magician's apprentices. Thomas is the apprentice for Neville Wighton, an up-and-coming magician, and a job which Thomas does not want- his parents have pushed him into it. Thomas would rather write poetry and study a "Illusions" was an enthralling historical romance with supernatural elements. The premise set up at the beginning of the book is that we are reading the historical documents held by the London Metropolitan Archives- diary entries of Thomas Pendleton and Saverio Moretti (translated), magician's apprentices. Thomas is the apprentice for Neville Wighton, an up-and-coming magician, and a job which Thomas does not want- his parents have pushed him into it. Thomas would rather write poetry and study at the university he attends. You see, Thomas is harboring a secret- one that could get him killed- he possesses actual magic. His parents think this is the best way to keep him safe, hidden amongst what is known to be the false magic of a stage magician. Wighton is using his abilities to perform a marvelous trick- he jumps off the stage and disappears, only to reappear in a balcony box. This trick is what is going to make Wighton's career, but Wighton is still verbally and physically abusive of his assistant. Thomas wishes only to be free. Saverio (Sav) is an Italian assistant to the man who purchased him when he was young, Paolo il Magnifico- however, Saverio is ready to make a career on his own. When Paolo agrees to allow Sav to remain in England to study Wighton's secret for the marvelous disappearing trick, Sav knows that this is his chance. He sets his eyes on the assistant, Thomas, to seduce and get information. However, as he begins his seduction, he gets to know Thomas better and faces an internal struggle. While the first part of the book seemed to drag, I was soon completely enthralled by the story and the format. Their relationship really drives the story forward and the format worked perfectly for this. The magic takes a backseat to the romance but is a current running underneath the novel, which has key roles to play at certain points. While I liked Thomas right away, Sav had to grow on me, largely through his own epiphanies and gains in terms of his own identity. Overall, it was an amazing journey, and I found reading about Thomas and Sav really fascinating. Although not quite what I expected (I was expecting more about the magic than romance), I really enjoyed it as-is, and I wouldn't change a thing. I highly recommend for older teen readers and adults who like historical romance- this is definitely a worthwhile read! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yonia Santana

    Disclaimer I voluntarily read and reviewed this advance reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. So thank you so much to the author, Entangled publishing, and Netgalley for giving me the chance to review this amazing book. I give this book a 3.5/5 starts The writing style of the books is interesting, and unique. Illusions is written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. The story is told in the point of views of two main characters. Thomas Pendleton, Disclaimer I voluntarily read and reviewed this advance reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. So thank you so much to the author, Entangled publishing, and Netgalley for giving me the chance to review this amazing book. I give this book a 3.5/5 starts The writing style of the books is interesting, and unique. Illusions is written in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. The story is told in the point of views of two main characters. Thomas Pendleton, an aspiring poet and magician’s apprentice. And Saverio Moretti, apprentice to the magician Paolo il Magnifico. Spoilers (view spoiler)[Thomas has a major secret one that could possibly end up getting him killed. He possesses actual magic. That is how he ended up being an apprentice. His parents thought hiding him amongst what is known to be the false magic of a stage magician was the best way to actually keep him safe. So that is how he ended up being the apprentice of a magician named Wighton. But Wighton is exploiting Thomas powers making Thomas use his powers to make him disappear and reappear somewhere else, all Wighton cares about is fame and being the best. Sadly, Wighton is very abusive(physically and mentally) of Thomas. When Thomas only wishes to be free and attend a university to write his own work. Saverio (Sav) is an assistant to Paolo il Magnifico. Sav is only longing for a show of his own. So Paolo agrees to let Sav find out how Wighton is able to do disappearing trick, Sav takes the opportunity. He seduces Thomas for information. But his plans fails as he gets to know Thomas more he starts harboring feelings for Thomas. I was happy that i actually got to see the growth in the relationship between them, it wasn’t just an insta love and i enjoyed that very much. (hide spoiler)] This book was very entertaining and i was hooked from the start. If you are a fan of The Night Circus, or even a Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I highly recommend this book. You should definitely keep a look out for this book when it releases November 6, 2018.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    I'm a bit conflicted on how to rate this, but for now I'll say it's 3.75/5 stars. To start off, I'd like to say that this book is written in a journal entry format interchanging between the characters. If you aren't used to this format, it could be something you need to get used to, but it shouldn't be much of a bother. My only drawback with this format is that while I do get to connect with the characters really well as I see multiple perspectives, it does make the plot go much slower in the beg I'm a bit conflicted on how to rate this, but for now I'll say it's 3.75/5 stars. To start off, I'd like to say that this book is written in a journal entry format interchanging between the characters. If you aren't used to this format, it could be something you need to get used to, but it shouldn't be much of a bother. My only drawback with this format is that while I do get to connect with the characters really well as I see multiple perspectives, it does make the plot go much slower in the beginning than what I deem to be normal. However, when Thomas and Sav eventually meet, as per moving the plot, the journal style helps develop their relationship and questions, thus making the story pick up pace. I'd give this style a solid 4 stars in execution, with 1 star knocked off, and the writing style paired with the format was making the beginning a tad too slow for my taste. A drawback I had with this book, while not something that broke the experience for me, was the actual magician aspect. I felt that it was quite lacking in many areas, despite the beginning seeming to be a central part to moving along the story and for character development. I wish it was more exciting in a sense. It definitely needed to be expanded more in my opinion. However, I will say that if you're interested in more character development than magicians themselves, then the balance should be perfectly fine for you. I personally would have liked a bit more. I give it a 3.75/5 stars as I feel it just wasn't enough for me to get a 4 star rating. Overall, this was an enjoyable book. I'll definitely have to come back to this at some point though and see if my opinions become more positive in certain aspects mentioned prior. I'd recommend this more so for those who enjoy a journal type format with strong character development, and not so much central focus on magic. If you're on the fence, I'd suggest borrowing from a library on release or read the first few chapters before purchasing. All opinions in this review are my own and are in no way influenced or biased by any external source. ARC was kindly given to me for free through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Corley Elizabeth

    2.5 stars. With how busy I've been this past month, I really wanted a book that didn't require a lot of thinking on my part. I tried out Illusions mostly because there wasn't anything else I felt like reading and because I'm interested in another of the author's works, but this turned out to be a fun, easy read. So while it wasn't groundbreaking or even very compelling and I did have problems with certain things, reading it was enjoyable. I currently don't have the time or energy to compose an ex 2.5 stars. With how busy I've been this past month, I really wanted a book that didn't require a lot of thinking on my part. I tried out Illusions mostly because there wasn't anything else I felt like reading and because I'm interested in another of the author's works, but this turned out to be a fun, easy read. So while it wasn't groundbreaking or even very compelling and I did have problems with certain things, reading it was enjoyable. I currently don't have the time or energy to compose an extensive review, so instead I'm trying something new: bullet points! • Though I've yet to read The Night Circus, the summary for Illusions reminded me of it a bit, with two magician assistants and their temperamental mentors. I liked seeing how magic was explored through the narrators: Thomas's magic, otherworldly and unpredictable, and the con tricks Sav grew up around. • The book's construction—being told about 90% in journal entries—didn't really work for me. I think Reynolds would have achieved a more organic flow had she simply switched between narrators and didn't use the diary format (although I did enjoy the newspaper clippings). • I was actually impressed by certain directions the plot went in; it covered material I didn't expect it to, such as (view spoiler)[how Thomas's parents sold him out to Wighton for his abilities and how Thomas faked his death, leading Sav to set out on a wild chase and find him (hide spoiler)] . • Too much insta-attraction on Thomas's part, which really dampened the romance for me. I did like how he and Sav grew as individuals and a couple once all their secrets were revealed, but I wasn't very enchanted by them as a couple. And while they both received decent development, I didn't enjoy how maudlin Sav had become by the book's end. • I laughed a fair bit. Like, sometimes because a situation was awkward, but there were some instances that genuinely amused me, generally because of Sav. For me, it was utterly delightful. Better than a trip to the theatre. I resisted the urge to reach for the nearest dish so that I might have a little snack to pair with the night's entertainment. A frenzy. Chaos. It was delicious—oh, and the food was quite good, as well. • The secondary characters were horribly flat: Thomas and Sav were the only ones with any dimension, so it was difficult to take the others seriously, from the villainous magicians to the girls in each boy's life (let's be honest, those ladies could have been so fascinating had Reynolds given them a chance). • Thomas's magic wasn't explained at all, and this bugged me to no end.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    First and foremost, I would like to thank Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read the ARC of Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. I voluntarily read and reviewed this advanced copy; all thoughts and opinions are my own. This book was not what I expected. I had heard that if you liked The Night Circus that you would love this book, however it was nothing like TNC and I am actually thankful! This is an LGBT romance, as well as YA fantasy. The first thing I noticed about this book i First and foremost, I would like to thank Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read the ARC of Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. I voluntarily read and reviewed this advanced copy; all thoughts and opinions are my own. This book was not what I expected. I had heard that if you liked The Night Circus that you would love this book, however it was nothing like TNC and I am actually thankful! This is an LGBT romance, as well as YA fantasy. The first thing I noticed about this book is that it is written in a journal format which gives you really good insight to how the main characters, Thomas and Sav, are feeling. Madeline Reynolds did an incredible job at making you feel connected to them; the character development was spot on. The book focuses on Thomas, who is the apprentice to the magician who performs an impossible trick, and Saverio, the apprentice to another magician, sent to unravel the mystery of his rival. I loved that his book focused more on the budding relationship between Thomas and Sav, rather than the world of illusionists. Most people are intrigued by magic, whereas that seemed to a side aspect of this novel. The ending "trick" was perfect and incredibly romantic. I enjoyed this mysterious, magical, and romantic novel, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a enchanting LGBT read. **spoiler** My only real critique of this novel is that the author notes in the beginning that this book is written in the format of journal entries and clippings, not explaining the reason for obtaining the journals or what the purpose of the story is. By the end of the book, it randomly changes to third person without an authors note which left me somewhat confused. An explanation of who is reviewing the journals and for what reason would have gave the book some more closure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ilona

    Thank you to Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read the ARC of Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. I voluntarily read and reviewed this advanced copy; all thoughts and opinions are my own. Illusions is a story about two magician apprentices whose lives come together in the most magical way. Thomas is the apprentice of Neville Wighton, a job that he despises and with a secret that he anxiously wants to keep. Saverio is the apprentice of Paolo il Magnificente and tasked with disc Thank you to Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read the ARC of Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. I voluntarily read and reviewed this advanced copy; all thoughts and opinions are my own. Illusions is a story about two magician apprentices whose lives come together in the most magical way. Thomas is the apprentice of Neville Wighton, a job that he despises and with a secret that he anxiously wants to keep. Saverio is the apprentice of Paolo il Magnificente and tasked with discovering the secret behind Neville Wighton's greatest illusion. To fulfill this task, Saverio's plan is to use the boy Thomas to reveal Neville's illusion. But the more he gets to know Thomas, the more difficult his task becomes. This was such an unique and wonderful story. I really enjoyed the way the story was set up. By reading the different diary entries, we truly get the sense what Thomas and Sav are feeling. These boys really have my heart. I loved the premise and was really surprised by it. I don't think I've ever read a story about magicians and magic in this way, and that made the book even more interesting for me. The book did start a bit too slow. But from the moment that Thomas and Sav began to interact, the story came alive for me. The relationship between Thomas and Sav really made this book. And I loved how real, heartwarming, heartbreaking and true their relationship felt. I did miss a lot more backstory on Thomas's gift: where did it come from, how did he discover it, what else could he do? Throughout the story I didn't feel like those questions got answered. All in all, I highly recommend Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds. If you love a story about magic, illusions and love, then this is the book for you!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lauren - SERIESous Books

    **I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is a voluntary review; all opinions are my own and not influenced by my source.** This book took me awhile to get into probably because it is told through (primarily) journal entries and that delivers the story in a different way. You focus more on the characters, their feelings and daily events more so than the setting or interactions with other characters. But once I got into the groove of the POV format, the story was easy **I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This is a voluntary review; all opinions are my own and not influenced by my source.** This book took me awhile to get into probably because it is told through (primarily) journal entries and that delivers the story in a different way. You focus more on the characters, their feelings and daily events more so than the setting or interactions with other characters. But once I got into the groove of the POV format, the story was easy to read. It was amazing to watch these two transform before my eyes as the story progressed. The Thomas and Saverio we get at the start of the novel definitely aren't the same boys we end the story with. I just loved the personal growth we see in these characters. I think the journal entries provided that touch of intimacy into these characters' emotions and inner thoughts that really adds to the characters' many layers. I, personally, would have enjoyed a more amped up rivalry between the two master magicians; with more sabotage. Instead, the focus remains on the two apprentices creating a very character driven story that is still very enjoyable to read because there is some great character growth (in addition to the very sweet romance). These two were simply adorable together! I always enjoy romances that don't start out with the nicest intentions, yet twist into something real and strong. When the plot isn't focusing on them as individuals, I like how it concentrated on how they navigate their relationship given the various circumstances (their rivalry, the nature of their relationship in society, etc.). I also appreciated how it took the time to tackle them realistically; nothing ever felt rushed in that sense. Despite a slower start, this is a great read for fans of character driven historical YA reads!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Since I read this through an eBook version, it will be interesting to see if this is another alternate formatted book. Illusions is told through two perspectives, each through written letters, pictures, and other forms to convey their stories. I think a physical copy of this book would be highly beneficial to the reader. I was also surprised, since I rarely remember the synopses, that this was a LGBT romance between two male characters stuck in a forbidden situation. Set in historical London, we Since I read this through an eBook version, it will be interesting to see if this is another alternate formatted book. Illusions is told through two perspectives, each through written letters, pictures, and other forms to convey their stories. I think a physical copy of this book would be highly beneficial to the reader. I was also surprised, since I rarely remember the synopses, that this was a LGBT romance between two male characters stuck in a forbidden situation. Set in historical London, we follow the two main characters as they battle being apprentices for separate illusionists. Flowing through their day-to-day, grunting tasks, they feel as if their loneliness is about to overpower them, that is, until they meet each other. And from there, the forbidden connection between them is constantly pulling each other ever closer. I really enjoyed this book. There is a lot of magic and trickery that turns into these spectacular events. I liked how the historical setting really brought this story to life and created a circus vibe without it actually being a circus. There was a lot of soul and passion in the writing as well. The back and worth of the journal entries eventually brought everything together into a fun, quick read. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the content and just immersing myself in their creative world. I think that if you love reading romantic twists and spectacular performances, this is your book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Grace Bowling

    Thomas and Saverio are apprentices for two competing magicians. Saverio is tasked with figuring out how the competition preforms their greatest trick. To do this he gets close to Thomas, and you can probably guess that he ends up falling in love with him, and things don’t go as planned when Thomas finds out exactly whats going on. On the other side of the story, Thomas is dealing with some major life changing things, trying to hide who he is what he is from the world. This novel takes the form o Thomas and Saverio are apprentices for two competing magicians. Saverio is tasked with figuring out how the competition preforms their greatest trick. To do this he gets close to Thomas, and you can probably guess that he ends up falling in love with him, and things don’t go as planned when Thomas finds out exactly whats going on. On the other side of the story, Thomas is dealing with some major life changing things, trying to hide who he is what he is from the world. This novel takes the form of journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings. It flows back and forth between out two main characters and we get an inside look from both perspectives. I thought it was super well done, and I found myself not wanting to put it down. This story is set in the late 1800’s in England and I’ve got a weak spot for historical fiction these days. Not to mention that it features a prominent male/male relations ship, which another thing I can’t resist. The story pulls at your heart strings. (It will even cause real tears if you’re anything like me.) You’ll find yourself rooting these characters and on the edge of your seat when things things start to go awry. Lastly, this book is, I believe, a stand-alone-novel, which I greatly appreciate since everything seems to be a long drawn out series these days. This is an amazing story of love, and magic, and what happens when the two come together. This book would be great for fan of The Night Circus, or even a Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I highly recommend you look out for it when it hits shelves in November! Thanks so much to Netgalley for the chance to read this amazing book early!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    I love magic and book about magic, and even more when it's real magic. So obviously I had to read this one. Most of the book is written through our two main characters' journal entries, letters, newspaper titles or else, making us feel like the story was documented to us, until the very end (I found it a little sad we found out about this other narrative not until the last pages because I was suddenly way more invested, but as I said, it was at the very end). The whole book seemed a little slow a I love magic and book about magic, and even more when it's real magic. So obviously I had to read this one. Most of the book is written through our two main characters' journal entries, letters, newspaper titles or else, making us feel like the story was documented to us, until the very end (I found it a little sad we found out about this other narrative not until the last pages because I was suddenly way more invested, but as I said, it was at the very end). The whole book seemed a little slow and there wasn't as much magic as I hoped, but it's because it mainly focused on Thomas and Saverio, their relationship and as characters by themselves. I admit I had a hard time with their romance since for the entire first part Saverio only think of Thomas as a tool to use, it was cruel how he manipulated the younger boy who is just a pure cinnamon roll who must be protected at all cost, and even though Sav ended up really falling for him and their relationship was quite sweet I just couldn't shake that feeling of wrongness I had for the first part. (I mean, I ended up rooting for them but boy this really didn't start in the greatest way) I still wish we'd learned more about Thomas' magic, it felt like the entire magic was just a subplot when it was actually way more important, and I have so many more questions.

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