Thursday, March 22, 2012

Illusion, by Frank Peretti

Dane and Mandy were a world renown magic act, performing for 40 years, but beyond that they were deeply in love.  When the couple gets into a tragic car accident, it appears to everyone, including Dane, that Mandy dies.  Actually, Mandy, or at least her 19 year old self circa 1970, had awakened in a strange new world.  Gone is the life and the people she knew, and it would seem as if she has gone crazy.  She discovers she has mysterious abilities, and she uses them to build a magic act that eventually catches Dane's attention.  He cannot help but wonder who is this girl who looks exactly like his dead wife, and why has she entered his life?

This book is so incredibly complex, it was hard for me to boil it down to a one paragraph synopsis.  That paragraph in no way does justice to the richness of the storytelling at work in this novel.  I have read other books by Frank Peretti, and I must admit, this one feels so much different.  At first, I was confused by the forces at play in this story.  Time travel? Astrophysics?  While confusing, hardly the dark and sinister Frank I was familiar with.  But as I delved deeper into the story, I saw that the symbolism at play was the darkness and pride of which people can be capable, and how one selfish act by any one person can touch, ruin even, the lives of so many.  This book is also an incredible love story.  The romantic angle of this story had me in tears by the end of the book.  

While Mandy's character is difficult to understand at times, that confusion is an important aspect of her character; we are confused because she is confused.  We do really get an intimate experience of connecting with Mandy's character, but it does feel at times as though it is from arms' length, until the full plot is revealed.  My heart just broke for both Mandy and Dane, and again the romance of the story really rocked me.  

For those unaware, Peretti writes Christian fiction.  And while this book is Christian fiction, it is one that plays with great subtleties and symbolism.  It is not explicit regarding the role of Father, Son, or Spirit, but it is hard to miss the symbolism of thousands of doves carrying someone to their final destiny.  I appreciated this soft, gentle form of symbolism, and I think it will make the book appealing to a broader audience than just those of us who traditionally read Christian fiction.  

All in all, I was really blown away by the book, particularly when the story really got moving and things started to make sense to me.  I would recommend it to anyone, do not let the Christian fiction label keep you away from reading what is a remarkable story.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.


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