Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.
Hoping to discover an exciting new talent, Dane ventures into the coffee shop and is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this teenager who has never met him, doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.
They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.
Frank Peretti has crafted a rich, rewarding story of love and life, loss and restoration, full of twists and mystery. Exceptionally well written, Illusion will soon prove another Peretti classic.
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This time travel/love story/thriller is a bit of a hefty tome, clocking in at about 500 pages. I rarely felt the weight of this, however. Peretti has the ability to keep his audience engaged, whether it’s with the amazing science of his premise, or the love story between the lead characters, or the powerful forces set against Dane and Mandy. My attention rarely wavered, encouraged by Peretti’s ability to craft an intelligent, interesting plot. And if you know Frank, he has a really wacky sense of humor—this leaked through in certain areas of dialogue, which I loved.
Peretti’s main characters of Dane and Mandy were wonderfully composed. They had great chemistry, and I totally believed their life stories. In my mind I could see actor Michael Keaton as Dane (Multiplicity anyone?) and AnnaSophia Robb as the young Mandy. As this unlikely couple, I found them easy to root for and believable as an aging master magician and his youthful time-traveled partner.
In recent years, one of my favorite, couldn’t-put-down novels was The Time Traveler’s Wife. Peretti’s Illusion had many of the same elements as Audrey Niffenegger’s bestseller, with the time traveling and anguished love story. The nice thing about this work is that it’s coming from the worldview of a Christian. Frank believes in the sanctity of marriage and did a masterful job of interweaving the intimacy of a marital relationship, without any sex scenes or terribly inappropriate behavior.
While Illusion is written from a Christian perspective, it’s not an over-the-top, heavy Gospel-messaged book. This is primarily a piece of entertainment, and although Peretti’s faith is clear within the pages, there isn’t a dominance of Bible thumping or preachy behavior. I mention this because Christian readers may want to share this novel with unbelievers. There are certainly messages of spiritual fulfillment within (which Peretti addresses directly in a post-story letter to the reader), but you’d have to look to This Present Darkness for a more overt spiritual story.
At the same time, Christian parents may want to hold off on letting their younger school-age children from enjoying Illusion just yet. There are a number of mature themes related to marriage that are addressed, and while Peretti handles them with decorum and propriety, this type of material isn’t appropriate for a younger crowd. There’s also a bit of graphic content, which is also handled very well, but had this same content be portrayed in a film (which I would love to see), it would probably garner a PG-13 rating.
In reading Illusion I had a wonderful return to the world and mind of Peretti. He is a masterful storyteller, and kept the pages turning for me chapter by thrilling chapter. It was one of the most efficient 500-page novels I’ve ever read. The time-travel fan in me adored the sci-fi element, which was complex and fantastical. Dane’s love for his wife was palpable, and Mandy’s desire to fit in her own time and space was relatable. Illusion was an entertaining ride through time and space, a worthy addition to the incredible work of Frank Peretti. I highly recommend it, to both Peretti fans and the uninitiated alike. There are no magic tricks here—it’s time well spent.
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Handlebar Marketing has graciously offered an Advanced Reader's Edition of Illusion to one of you! Check out the guidelines below, go to the Rafflecopter form and enter to win!
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Contest Update: After my husband and I read the review copy of Illusion, we decided to give it away as well! I drew a second name, and our winner Carol M. is more than willing to accept our twice-read review copy. Congrats to both winners, and thanks to everyone for entering!
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