Mandy's death in a car accident means the end of her forty-year career in magic in which she and her husband, Dane, had performed around the world. Or does it? Because Mandy is not dead. She's nineteen again, but nineteen in 2010, not the 1970 she remembers. Mandy struggles to adjust to modern life, trying to practice her father’s advice: when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Meanwhile, Dane is struggling to adjust to life without his wife, until one day he sees a young magician who reminds him of a young version of Mandy.
As is typical of a Peretti novel, nothing is what it seems. Characters that appeared harmless at first then appear to have some ulterior motive. There is Mandy’s new manager, who helps her get a valid social security number. There is also the mysterious Mr Stone and Mr Mortimer, who appear at Mandy's funeral, then follow Dane to his new home in northern Idaho to spy on him. And underneath, there is they mystery of how a dead woman has suddenly appeared again, forty years younger. It's like there is more than one Mandy, but she is real because she eats and sleeps and talks, and other people talk to her, so it's not like she's a ghost - just a teenager in 2010 who only knows the sixties songs and slang.
I try not to read other people's reviews before I read a book for review, because I don't want to be influenced by someone else's ideas. But I did happen to glimpse a couple of reviews before starting to read Illusion, and one commented that they found the beginning of the book confusing. Well, yes, it was. But I think that was the intention. Just imagine it. One moment you’re nineteen and enjoying the County Fair with your friends. You sit down to eat lunch, and the next thing you know, the Fair has vanished, everything that is familiar is gone, and people are talking into small plastic boxes and telling you it is 2010 when you know it is 1970. What's not to be confused about?
So, yes, it was confusing. It was also engaging and intriguing and I wavered between trying to work out who was who and exactly what was happening, and just wanting to read more and read faster so I could find out for myself. And weird things keep happening. Illusion is not a spiritual warfare novel like Peretti’s early Darkness novels, but it is a fast-paced thriller with a touch of science fiction, albeit from a Christian point of view. I was reading at night and found it hard to keep my eyes open, but even harder to stop reading. Recommended.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. (Please note that this was a pdf file, not an epub file. The words are the same, but the formating might be slightly different).