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Apr 13, 2012

Illusion by Frank Peretti

Spellbinding mix of Science, Spirit, Afterlife, Thriller!
Illusion by Frank Peretti
Howard Books, March 6, 2012
Hardcover 512 pages
Review copy generously received from the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 5 stars

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.

Peretti's marketing team had done a stellar job promoting this novel on Facebook, and I read an excerpt there which had me hooked. I have rarely every read samples or excerpts in their entirety before, but this one was good. When I finally got around to reading it, I really had no idea what to expect, even after the first chapter.

Married and professionally successful in the magic business for many years, Dane and Mandy Collins are in a horrific car accident which leaves only one alive. Sort of. Dane survived, and continues his grieving process in Mandy's hometown in a new house they were supposed to live in together. Soon enough, he meets up with the alter ego of Mandy. Going by Eloise, she is a young woman thinking she should be in the hippy 70's, but it's really 2010. When Dane meets Eloise, there is a connection, but neither one of them realizes the magnitude of it. Could it really be Mandy, reincarnated so to speak, as her former self at age nineteen?

Enter Corporal James Dose. Screeching tires sound effect because I really wanted him to go away since he just sort of inserted himself into the story which was gearing up towards love lost and found... now we have some sort of spygate/terrorist cell thing out of nowhere. Turns out, he is just one of a few of the ripple effect Eloise's sudden appearance causes.

Sixty year old Dane is grieving for his wife Mandy, and when Eloise walks up to his front door, he knows something crazy (but magical?) is going on. Convincing himself that Eloise is Mandy's former younger self/spirit doesn't take much. But Eloise doesn't know what's going on either, not does she know where she fits in the universe. It turns out there are many timelines, and Eloise is just one of them. And how is Eloise doing all these fantastic magic tricks, wowing everyone she sees? And who is she, and where did she come from? Enter a few mad scientists, trickery, deceit and a love that surpasses all odds, and you've got yourself a story like no other. I completely fell in love with Dane and Mandy, and her doves, and his loyalty and willingness to believe in the impossible.

I need to mention that when books fall into a paranormal or timeslip category, I don't read any further. If you read this review and feel like it something that you wouldn't normally enjoy, you might very well could be wrong. This was an awesome story for me well deserving of its five stars, even though it may not be something I would usually read. There is a Christian theme and a thriller theme, all blending seamlessly with this undying love for a spouse. Packed with fantastic storytelling, Frank Peretti lives up to his good name. Illusion is a bit of a magic show in itself: mystery, thriller, spirituality, romance.. and as Mandy/Eloise say to each other, "You are in for a ride!"