Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
There’s magic in this YA novel, but it’s not set in an alternate world and that’s a lot of its charm. New York City of the flapper era 1920’s is brought to life through seamlessly dropped details of daily living, lovely descriptions of dresses worn, and cameos by actual people of the time, like the great Houdini, who may or may not be the father of main character Anna Van Housen.
Anna and her beautiful mother have lived a vagabond life, earning money by performing magic shows and conducting séances in small towns across the country, but now they have an extended booking in a prestigious NYC theater and Anna is hoping they can stay on the right side of the law so it will no longer be necessary for her to use her magician skills to break her mother out of jail and flee. Anna has an interesting, complicated relationship with her mother, part love and admiration, part longing and resentment. She would do anything to keep her mother safe, but Anna wishes her mother would let her play a bigger role in their magic show, and that she’d give up doing séances, which get them in trouble and dupe vulnerable bereaved people. What Anna’s mother doesn’t realize is that while all of her own act involves illusion and deception, Anna has some actual magical abilities--like sensing people’s emotions, having visions of the future, and even communicating with the dead--and those powers are growing faster than she can figure out how to control them.
Dancing at the Cotton Club, two intriguing but very different suitors, and the fascination people of the time had with psychic phenomenon all figure in the story and add to its fun.