Friday, 12 June 2015

Review: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Publication Date: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 368 pages

What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.
Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind 
The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

I absolutely loved Heather Dixon’s debut novel ‘Entwined’ a retelling of the tale of the twelve dancing princesses, and have been eagerly awaiting her next novel since then. Which meant there were an awful lot of expectations to live up to before I even opened the book.

Jonathan is a wonderful protagonist. With so many female protagonists it was great to see such an incredible book with a boy at its heart. He’s proper and polite (some of the dialogue and exclamations had me laughing out loud) and funny – best use of footnotes I’ve seen since Jonathan Stroud and Jasper Fforde. And he’s an all around kind and determined young man. He never stops trying to fight to save those he loves, even if that does mean his compass goes a little off course at points.

The supporting characters are also amazing – I loved Lockwood particularly. I kind of want another book that is just Lockwood and Jonathan fighting and bantering. He is genius, and I want to give him hugs, all the hugs.

I had forgotten, as it has been a while since I read ‘Entwined’ just how terrifying Dixon can make things. Illusionarium is definitely very dark and twisted, but it’s done in quite a light way – it’s hard to explain! But I definitely wasn’t expecting to be as terrified reading this as I was. It felt like quite an exciting, colourful journey to start with but the further enmeshed in the story you became the more it tilted into some terrifying carnival of horrors.

I had no real idea what the story would be about going in, and I’m not going to spoil it for you here because it’s quite an exciting story that takes you places that you would never expect. Just know that it is brilliantly written, hugely imaginative, fantasy, dystopia and steampunk all rolled up into one, with a wonderful hero at its heart. Plus, there is very minimal romance, which in the current trend of romance! Love triangles! Is a different and wonderful choice. It meant that there was much more focus on the story without the distraction element of a romance subplot, and it made quite a refreshing change. There's lots of other love though, most notably sibling love and family love and it is so awesome to see a novel only looking at that.
The other refreshing change? It appears to be a standalone. I love that Dixon has created two such wildly different stand alone stories in a world where we are being inundated with series.

This is something very different from what you are probably imagining from the blurb, and also from everything else I’ve read this year. A uniquely brilliant and imaginative story that gets incredibly dark and twisted at points and had me feverishly reading to find out how on earth it all ended. This is a wonderful follow up novel to Dixon’s stunning debut and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
If you're curious, don't forget to check out the incredible book trailer that Heather created herself - I blogged about it here!

No comments:

Post a comment