Illusionarium by Heather Dixon. Greenwillow Books, 2015. 368 pages.
Bottom Line: A darker steam-punk fantasy, Illusionarium will be enjoyed by teenage boys and girls who enjoy alternative reality.
Arthurias, 1863, is an outpost colony in the North Sea populated by miners and those who love a quieter life. As the story begins, Jonathan Goodwill’s chief concern is how he can ask Alice, his sister’s pretty friend, to correspond when he goes off to university.
Then, one stormy night, the king arrives, asking Jonathan’s father to find the cure for a mysterious sickness sweeping the land, and Jonathan’s family becomes trapped in a race against time. But, what if —as some insist— time can be manipulated?
Jonathan’s father refuses to consider the possibility of manipulating time, believing it to be a morally questionable practice. But Jonathan, desperate to find a cure, is wiling to try. Through illusions, Jonathan accesses another world and becomes embroiled in a complex adventure where morality is often disregarded and the stakes are life and death.
While at times the story drags, Jonathan is an engaging narrator —particularly with his occasional footnotes! Though claiming to be protestant, the extent of faith in Illusionarium consists of possessing a strong moral compass that points unwaveringly north.
Jonathan worries his own compass may be broken, but throughout the story, characters are able to direct and mend their own compasses through their actions and choices. We all do have a compass, but only faith in Christ will help our compasses and, this side of heaven, they will never be unerringly correct.
If you liked Larklight by Philip Reeves . . . You will enjoy this!
Cautions: Scary Images (creatures within illusions, fighting)
Overall rating: 4 (out of 5)
Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction