Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

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imagesIllusionarium is a Steampunk Fantasy novel that wastes no time propelling you into it’s story. The protagonist Johnathon lives in the Arctic city of Fata Morgana in a world that takes place in the future (he visits the capital city which “used to be called London” hundreds of years ago) in a time when a dangerous epidemic of Venen (a disease which takes six days to kill you) is sweeping the kingdom. Johnathon is a son and apprentice of a famed Doctor and Researcher whom the King comes to see and immediately charges with finding the cure to Venen in four days to save his wife-the Queen. He brings with him a new element “fantillium” which when inhaled gives you the ability to have shared illusions with other people who have also inhaled the mysterious black liquid. You can essentially create an entire world which feels real-but is not- until you break yourself of the illusion. His father does not approve of using fantillium, saying that it’s effects are unknown and therefore should not be trusted, and refuses to cooperate with the King, even when his own wife and daughter, Hannah, fall in with Venen.But Johnathon does not want to give up and he finds that he is a talented “Illusionist” and might be able to find a cure where others could not. These illusions weave Johnathon in and out of reality as he goes on an adventure to find a cure for this futuristic Black Death.

Illusionarium is funny and witty and makes you feel as if you are on an epic and intriguing venture through every single page. The dialogue, however, vacillatesĀ  between futuristic to modern and all the way to Victorian English which can be slightly off-putting with its inconsistencies, but overall nothing could deter me from the fast paced narrative. Mixed in with all of the fantasy and adventure is Johnathon’s adolescent quest to find his own inner moral compass as he is exposed to life and independence and magic for the first time, which makes it a perfect read!

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