Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon book cover and review
I was very entertained while reading Illusionarium. However, it doesn't have the "wow" factor to stick with me.

We're in an alternate universe. Jonathan is working with his dad and intends to become a doctor, as is his father. They live on a floating city very far north, so it's very stormy and cold. Everything is covered in ice.

There's a plague in one of the big cities, and the king comes to pick up Jonathan and his father to take them to his lab to find a cure. The queen has this disease, which only women contract and it always kills them in six days.

There's this chemical called fantillium that when breathed in, if you are an illusionarium you can create hallucinations and modify reality so that everyone with you sees what you create. They are supposed to work with a mad scientist that Jonathan's father has worked with before, and she is convinced that it is necessary to use fantillium to find the cure. Jonathan's father thinks she is mad and won't have anything to do with her. Jonathan, however, is more open to this approach, since he is an illusionarium.

There is an alternate universe they travel to and the cure exists there, but Jonathan must pay a huge price to get it. He's put in danger and there are many tense moments. I think the fact that this was all so fantastical made the tension just not that believable. It's kind of like a fairy tale -- you know that everything is going to turn out OK, so you don't get too tense.

The characters are distinct. The evil characters are plenty evil. The "zombies" are totally scary. The side effects of fantillium are interesting and horrid! For fans of steampunk, there are those elements too. The writing is easy and I read Illusionarium very quickly.

For lovers of a fantasy adventure that includes steampunk, Illusionarium might be appealing. For me, it was entertaining, but it's not a book that will leave a lasting impression.

Published by Greenwillow, May 19, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 3/5

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