By Laura L. Sullivan
Available now from Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin)
DELUSION is one of those books with a killer premise. Twin magicians (as in Harry Houdini) are sent to the countryside during WWII wherein they find as school of magicians (as in Harry Potter). Unfortunately, it takes a long time to live up to the promise of that premise.
The novel is narrated in omniscient third, although it usually sticks close to Phil Albion, that is. After the death of her little foster brother in a bombing, she's determined to convince the sleepy, forgotten village of Bittersweet to due its duty for the cause. When she stumbles upon the College of Drycraeft, she's just as determined to convince the magicians to fight in the war. But the war has touched the village in some ways, as evidenced by wounded veterans Uncle Walter and Algernon. The magicians present their reasons for staying out of it, including their determination to never use magic to take a life. But it takes Phil a long time to even admit shades of grey exists and that she might not know what's best for everyone.
DELUSION slips into other characters' heads randomly, for a few lines or a few paragraphs. It is not done smoothly and often provides clumsy exposition. Those other characters include Fee, Phil's twin, who is particularly wasted. She's a romantic and falls in love with one of the magicians at first sight. She has almost nothing to do in the story aside from that. As for Arden, the magician Phil falls in love with, he's a real winner. He's a jerk and possibly his only redeeming quality is that he agrees with Phil that the magicians need to protect the country that shelters them.
But I didn't totally hate DELUSION. Once Phil finally agreed with every other person around her that war is complicated, the story began taking on layers. Before that, the only layers were people offering their differing views to a brick wall pretending to be a redhead. Plus, there are some really exciting developments toward the end of DELUSION. Basically, by the end of the novel I was loving it. But it was a bit of a slog to make it to the good stuff.
If you are longing to read a historical fantasy, then go ahead and pick up DELUSION. Otherwise, you might be a little wary. I want to read the next novel, but where Laura L. Sullivan goes next will definitely affect my opinion of the readability of DELUSION.