frank peretti - illusionFrank Peretti
Howard Books

Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life–or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakens in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop. Hoping to discover an exciting new talent, Dane ventures into the coffee shop and is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this teenager who has never met him, doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier. They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protegé, but even as Dave tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.

As a writer of Christian fiction, Frank Peretti has surprisingly managed to avoid the usual pitfalls found in the subgenre of literary fiction. Namely, his work doesn’t seem like it’s pandering, there’s none of the usual cliché’s associated with Christian fiction, and his stories aren’t carbon copies of each other. And I know what you’re thinking–and you’re wrong: Piercing The Darkness was a sequel to This Present Darkness.

Anyway, in Illusion, Frank Peretti writes a touchingly tragic love story of a retired magician who has just lost his wife of 40 years in a  traffic accident…and then runs across her 19-year-old self due to quantum displacement. So, essentially, Illusion is a mystery thriller with a sci-fi aftertaste. Rather interesting story, exploring not only the mystery surrounding the sudden appearance of the main character’s dead wife from the 1970s showing up in the modern day, but also Dane’s struggle in trying to make sense of everything while doing the honorable thing by not giving in to his urges, for lack of a better phrasing.

Personally, I thought the story flowed better where it focused on the mystery thriller side, rather than the sentimental romantic aspects. I did find the magician angle interesting, and the technical aspects didn’t go too far as to become a how-to expose’ on the craft (having a couple of magician friends, I tend to respect the secrecy), but enough to lend some legitimacy to the story. And while I’m not going to completely spoil things, I wasn’t too pleased with the ending. Seemed too easy, really. Maybe it’s because of my disposition when I got around to reading this; still, a bit too happy and convenient resolution.

Regardless, Illusion was farely well-written, in Peretti’s cinematic style, which makes for some good recreational reading. If you enjoyed his past couple of novels, you’ll enjoy Illusion.