Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan

Title: Delusion
Author: Laura L. Sullivan
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Pages: 352 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC via Amazon Vine
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

DelusionWhen 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.


This is one of those books it's difficult to put my feelings into words for. There's a lot to like about Delusion and the premise is certainly a grabbing one because of my love of magic, but there are so many ways in which it goes wrong too. Simple ways that could easily be fixed and also ways that would require an overhaul of the entire novel.

Phil and Fee are fantastic and not a thing about them should change. One cheeky, lively sister and a sweetheart who's too sweet for her own good make for fun reading and their relationship as sisters is fine from what little we see of it. The novel is more concentrated on the romance and the world of the magicians of the College of Drycraeft. The magical elements of the novel are well-drawn and I like how it covered the racism a lot of magic/witch/magician/whatever you want to call it stories tend to ignore. Nice parallel of the magicians' thoughts of being the master race and Hitler's master race too.

(And you can't not appreciate how deliciously dirty some scenes are when taken out of context. If I'd bookmarked them and was able to quote them, I would.)

Where the novel starts to fail is its pacing. The tension should be there because of the war, but there's so little energy for most of the book that putting it down is easy while picking it back up is a challenge. Plot events happen at the right times to keep the story moving, but the lack of feeling makes it feel like nothing is happening at all. The romance that gets the story going--the one that should feel real because of how important it is to everything--is nothing but insta-love and while Phil and Arden don't come together instantly, they aren't necessarily well-developed enough for me to believe them either.

Delusion boasts the worst narrative head-jumping I've ever seen. The worst. One book from September was the previous record-holder, but this novel soundly re-broke it and made sure no one else will ever take its crown. In the middle of a paragraph, we might jump into Fee, Arden, Headmaster Rudyard, or a random citizen's head without reason. We might finish out the chapter in that character's head or jump right back into Phil, all of which is done with a complete lack of smooth transition. There's no counting how many paragraphs have to be reread because the point of view changes with so little warning.

Also, look. I get that this is set in the 1940s and there will be slut-shaming. I can deal with it in a historical novel, especially when this one sets it up as wrong. Still, when one makes an unneeded point of view change where one character calls Phil a slut, that's too much. We never go back into that character's head either. It's that one moment. Include slut-shaming in your historical if you must for accuracy's sake, but if there is any way to avoid it, do it. Please. I beg you!

The ending was a blast and a half as the entire novel came together, but it also cemented my aforementioned hatred of Arden. The girl he loves tells him not to give her magic because she's happy as she is and doesn't want it, but he ignores what she wants and gives it to her anyway. Then the overpowered Phil unleashes her new magic and kills a buttload of people--including the good gus. NICE JOB BREAKING IT, ARDEN. When a girl says no, it means NO. It doesn't mean force it on her anyway.

Delusion was sold as part of a two-book deal. As interested as I am in where the story will go, the unstable narration makes me not want to touch it. The feeling I have that Arden's actions aren't going to be properly criticized doesn't encourage me either. If anyone wants a dose of World War II-era Britain with plenty of magic mixed in, this is their book.

2.5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Burning Emerald by Jaime Ross