Blog Tour and Book Review: Illusion by Stephanie Elmas

I'm pleased to welcome you to today's stop on the blog tour for Stephanie Elmas' wonderful book, Illusion, published by Endeavour Press and available for purchase from Amazon.


London, 1873. Returning home from his travels with a stowaway named Kayan, Walter Balanchine is noted for the charms, potions and locket hanging from his neck. Finding his friend Tom Winter’s mother unwell, he gives her a potion he learned to brew in the Far East. Lucid and free from pain, the old woman remembers something about Walter’s mother. Walter is intrigued, for he has never known his family or even his own name – he christened himself upon leaving the workhouse.

Living in a cemetery with his pet panther Sinbad to keep the body snatchers away, word soon spreads of

his healing and magical abilities and he becomes a sought after party performer. During one of Walter’s parties, Tom is approached by Tamara Huntington, who reveals she is being forced to marry a man she does not love. Will he and Walter come to her rescue? Try as they might, sometimes all the best intentions in the world can’t put a stop to a bad thing, and she is soon married off to the cruel Cecil Hearst.

Drama and tragedy ensue, and Walter keeps his distance from Tamara. That is until her stricken brother-in-law Daniel requires his magical healing, and he is forced back into her life.

With secrets beginning to emerge, Walter finds his mother may be a lot closer to home than he realised…

My Thoughts

I loved everything about this book. So beautifully written, it captured my imagination immediately and drew me into the Victorian world of Tom Winter, musician and piano teacher, and his unusual friend, Walter Balanchine, a magician, illusionist, healer and mystic.

It is Walter’s return to London from the Far East, after an absence of three years, and his rescue of Tom from a potentially dangerous situation that sets the pace of this story. The momentum continues through many twists and turns right to the end.

Tom’s joy at the return of his friend hints at a deep and binding friendship revealed by flashbacks of their early years together in the workhouse and later, on the mean streets of the East End.

Apart from the more conventional Tom, and Walter, whose physical appearance and colourful choice of clothing make him stand out against the dismal, gas-lit and foggy aspect of Victorian London, Illusion is filled with many other memorable characters. On the evil side there is the repulsive and controlling Cecil Hearst and his thuggish henchman, Palmer; and Tamara’s mother, who is prepared to sacrifice her daughter’s well-being and happiness to protect her own secrets. The good are represented by Sally, who despite her unrequited love for Tom assists with the care of his mother, and Tamara, who endures physical and mental abuse from her husband, to discover that all is not as it seems and that her situation is far from hopeless.

Walter's search for the mother who abandoned him is poignant. His pursuit of the truth of his parentage uncovers a surprising connection to one of the characters, but can he forgive?

There are dark and disturbing elements to this novel, but these are alleviated by the magical moments and the wonder of Walter's illusions so vividly described as to be totally believable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more from Stephanie Elmas.

Thank you to Endeavour Press for the invitation to participate in this blog tour and providing me with a free copy of the novel to read and review.

Meet the Author

Stephanie Elmas was born in Hong Kong to an English father and Czech mother but spent most of her childhood in Bristol. She studied English at university in London.

Having worked as a head hunter, she taught English in Japan before returning to university to complete an MA in Victorian fiction. It was here that she developed her interest in the dark dangerous world of Victorian sensation writing.

After the success of her first novel, The Room Beyond, Elmas has returned to write the tale of the early life of East End mystic and illusionist Walter Balanchine.

When she is not writing, Elmas teaches secondary school English and juggles a chaotic household in Surrey.

Twitter: @StephanieElmas

Blog Tour Giveaway

Tracy @ Carpe Librum is hosting a giveaway for the duration of the tour. To win a paperback copy of Illusion, head over to her blog to enter. The giveaway is open to international readers and entries close midnight November 27, 2017.

Blog Tour