I want to begin this review sharing two reviews I was blessed to do. The Butterfly and The Violin and A Sparrow in Terezin. For me these two novels were masterpieces. Works of such exquisite beauty. They showed that Kristy Cambron is gifted with the pen, a master storyteller. They remain two of my all-time top favorites.
It was for this reason I was thrilled to be receiving a copy of The Illusionist's Apprentice. Once again Cambron shows us a masterpiece of bringing a story to readers that speaks of faith and our Lord. Although throughout the novel these aspects are not boldly proclaimed, but are masterfully weaved throughout the story.
Magic and illusion are not the same. I love how she brings this truth. Love that the main character was an apprentice to the master of illusion. She takes the use of being an apprentice and walks that road with integrity and hope. When we choose to walk with Christ we are His apprentices. We are to walk as the main character, Wren Lockhart walked. We hold true to what we believe, we are on guard for what traps that lie in wait around us carried out by the one of deceit and lies, Satan. There is much here about bringing about truth in a world of lies. When we walk in light the lies of darkness will be revealed.
Wren Lockhart is protective of those she loves. She is a strong character. She doesn't fear the darkness around her, but knows the truth of trickery and hates what it does to people who totally believe. When we live faith we don't have faith in the seen, but in what is unseen. We believe the impossible is possible with God alone. Faith isn't meant to deceive people, but to bring out the best in them to shine light throughout the world around them.
Although Wren Lockhart is one person on stage, she is another in her private life, but through both she is authentic to who she truly is in her heart. Even on stage she doesn't give in to worldliness as others have done. She hasn't allowed the stage to change her into someone she isn't to be, but being strong in faith she allows the characteristics of faith to light up a stage in a way others cannot touch.
One of my favorite things about this novel is that Cambron masterfully uses a scene in the novel to show us that only Christ can conquer the grave. See, in the beginning of the novel there is one who is trying to make a name for himself, to point a light onto only him, by proclaiming that he can bring a dead man to life. There was much deceit and trickery in his act, magic. This is something that Houdini debunked throughout his career. Again, bringing a darkness into the light so the truth can be uncovered.
Suspense, romance, and faith are weaved throughout this novel. I love unexpected romance. There's a love that grows when two people allow a transparency and trust between them. With that said, throw in Harry Houdini, an apprentice who is gifted after years of learning from the master, magicians who sow deceit, a crime of murder to solve, two detectives willing to go the distance to uncover the truth, and a few characters who test everything about them.
If one takes there time in reading this novel they will uncover many beautiful aspects to living a life of faith. But, that's the key, taking their time. Yet, I found the first chapters very slow. Sadly, I didn't connect to the characters. I wanted to. I so wanted to fall in love with these characters of the 1920s in this vaudeville era. I enjoyed the history, the theme of the story, but something was missing for me. Maybe because this novel is so very different from those favorites I have shared with you. As much as I enjoyed the story I just couldn't connect with the characters. You know, that strong connection that drives you to turn pages. There was just a disconnect there for me that I wish wasn't there. But this novel was unlike the two I shared. With those the characters leaped off the pages. They were vibrant and heart changing.
Oh, and the unexpected romance. This was a sweet growing one. Something else was the fact that Wren's early life wasn't so easy. She lived through tragedy, but what I love is that she didn't allow this tragedy to define her. She gained a strength from her passion for God that led her to pursuing life in an adventure, believing in a God who would show her great things impossible without faith.
And Wren, just the name alone, gives us a story that points to our Savior. Oh, these things I LOVE! That's what I mean about Cambron being a master storyteller. Although I didn't really connect with the characters there was much to love about this novel. You may very well pick up this novel and walk away with a different experience and find yourself in these characters. You are sure to find something about Cambron's writing that will bring you to fall in love with reading all over again.
This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.
Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews' list of Best Books of 2014 and 2015 and have received nominations for RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best Inspirational Book 2014 and 2015. She holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University and has fifteen years of training and communications experience for a Fortune 100 corporation. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.