Tracey R. Newman’s narrative scope is impressive in Illusion, the first installment in a promised series.
The author weaves a dense tale that spans more than 500 pages and incorporates elements of fantasy, horror, espionage and ancient history. The book’s roster of characters include a roguish archaeologist seeking ancient relics, a Duchess waging a battle against ancient forces of evil, a Scotland Yard Inspector intent on solving a baffling mystery and a gallery of villains that includes assassins, monsters and demons.
In settings that range from modern London to the depths of the Bolivian jungle, Newman spells out a story that pits an unlikely set of protagonists against epic forces of evil. What kicks off as an adventure story featuring archaeologist Nickolaus Piper and his quest for sacred relics, mushrooms into a tale with epic consequences. The novel’s endgame is a battle for the collective fate of the world, and Newman’s source material stretches back to the Western world’s most ancient religions.
Newman’s wide-ranging scope simultaneously serves as the most interesting and most challenging aspect of her debut novel. Told entirely in first-person perspectives through a roster of different characters, the story sometimes feels obscured under the weight of its own varied elements. Between the numerous characters, the obscure references, obscure mythologies and the constantly shifting perspectives, the book can feel turgid and muddled at points.
Even so, there’s a wealth of material that will appeal to readers from a wide range of genres. There’s enough intrigue and action to satisfy fans of spy novels, and enough well-researched references to history, archaeology and history to please dedicated students of history. The book’s central conflict features enough angels, demons and epic heroes to impress any dedicated fantasy fan.
Although the combination of all of these elements may prove a bit too dense for some, Newman’s sense of detail and clear narrative style will prove a draw for readers with patience and a taste for the obscure.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.