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.
Parallel universes are something that always spikes my interest, so I went into ILLUSIONARIUM knowing it would be my kind of story.
The author has created such a richly drawn world in this story. First, there's Jonathan's home world, which is a steampunk alternate reality from our own. Then he discovers a drug that can illusion portals into other worlds and the adventure takes off from there. Both worlds are unique despite some similarities which point to a shared past.
I also enjoyed Jonathan's narration. He has a funny, frank tone that made him instantly likable as a character and a narrator. He gets swept up into this world he doesn't know, but he rises to the challenge even when he makes mistakes and has setbacks. I thoroughly enjoyed his snarky friendship with Lockwood.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Even though I liked the characters, I didn't find myself connecting too deeply with any of them. I'm a character reader, so I felt that this was missing for me personally while reading this story. Jonathan also includes footnotes in his narration, which I felt were unnecessary.
The Final Verdict:
ILLUSIONARIUM is a fun adventure story set against a fascinating steampunk/alternate reality backdrop that will have you racing through the pages.