May 14, 2015

Illusionarium Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Illusionarium blog tour! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book with you - and don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, check out the schedule at the bottom of the post.

Author: Heather Dixon
Genre: YA Historical/Science Fiction/Steampunk
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Hardcover; ebook
368 pages


What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Check out the book trailer:

Illusionarium is an action-packed steampunk novel that's set in an alternate history of our own. Our main character, Jonathan, is the son and apprentice of the world-renowned Dr. Gouden. They receive word that a new plague has hit the capital city of the Empire - and it's infecting and killing more people each day. With nowhere else to turn, the King of the Empire turns to Jonathan's father to help find a cure. During their research, they come across a new chemical called fantillium - which allows people to share hallucinations or, in other words, illusions. Jonathan discovers that he's actually incredibly talented at using the fantillium to create illusions, which then gets him caught up in a whole different world than what he's used to - along with knocking him off the path he was on to become a surgeon. Will the fantillium take over Jonathan's life completely? Or will he come to his senses and realize just what's been happening to him and those around him?

I haven't read very many steampunk novels, although I've always enjoyed the ones that I do read. This book was no different. I adored all of the steampunk concepts that were peppered throughout the story - from the small things like steam-powered pistols to big ones like airships. There's just something so unique about the steampunk genre along with the alternate histories they are usually set in - just like this book is. The setting for the book is an aerial city that's actually floating over the Arctic. How awesome is that? Even though it sounds absurd, I was easily able to imagine it in my mind due to the author's incredible talent and use of vivid imagery and detailed descriptions throughout the book. I was able to slip inside Jonathan's world from the first page and, to be honest, I didn't want to leave it. There were so many intricate details and fascinating inventions that I wanted to learn as much as I could about each one. I think that the steampunk aspect of the book gives a certain depth to the story that wouldn't have been there otherwise - which made it enchanting and more fascinating, in my opinion. 

Jonathan is an interesting choice for the main character. He isn't the usual hero figure - he's actually quite plain and ordinary. His aptitude for science and then his ability to use the fantillium were unique strengths that helped to round out his character, which would have been rather dull otherwise. He's not a terrible main character - just one that's opposite of what you're used to - sort of an underdog type. His character did go through some growth and maturation during the book. After certain circumstances make his father's research on the plague all the more urgent, Jonathan really steps up to help out. He even goes as far as working with the strange new chemical, fantillium, that his father doesn't agree with or trust. He's doing it for the right reasons - at least in the beginning - and by the end of the book, his character is definitely changed from the one we met at the start of the story. The other characters were well written with their own unique personalities and distinctions. I like that the author made Jonathan to be a normal person - more ordinary than usual. It helps the reader identify with him early on and makes his character more realistic. 

The plot was really entertaining and fascinating. The idea of a rampant plague in this alternate history was easy to believe, and the situations throughout the story are definitely suspenseful. I loved reading about the race to find a cure for the disease, along with the small side story where Jonathan gets lured by the use of fantillium. Both were incredibly interesting and I enjoyed learning as much as I could about the plague, the search for the cure, and the fantillium and all that's involved with that aspect of the book. The author creates an intricate story line that has several small plots woven together to create one mesmerizing tale. I definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy steampunk fiction as well as readers who like fantasy, science fiction, action, adventure, and alternate histories/worlds. This is one that you'll want to get your hands on!

Heather Dixon grew up in a large family with four brothers and six sisters. She is a storyboard artist as well as a writer, and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Viennese waltz is her dance of choice. She is the author of the novel Entwined. 

(1) Winner will receive a finished copy of ILLUSIONARIUM plus an ARC of THE UNQUIET by Mikaela Everett. US Only!

Tour Schedule:

Week One: 
5/11/2015 - Chapter by Chapter - Interview 
5/12/2015 - Bumbles and Fairy-Tales - Review 
5/13/2015 - Fiktshun - Guest Post 
5/14/2015 - A Dream Within A Dream - Review 
5/15/2015 - Supernatural Snark - Interview

Week Two: 
5/18/2015 - Mundie Moms - Guest Post 
5/19/2015 - Falling For YA - Review 
5/20/2015 - Fire and Ice - Interview 
5/21/2015 - Reading with ABC - Review 
5/22/2015 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post



  1. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I loved Entwined so much that I bought a copy for my friends to share. It is my favorite fairy tale retelling of all time!! I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Illusionarium since I first heard of it's creation. I can't wait to read Heather's take on steampunk. This is my most anticipated book of the year!!!! :) :) :)

  3. Hello Heather, Illusionarim sounds awesome! I love all things Steampunk! Thank you

  4. The cover drew me in! What an interesting book! I hope I win!

  5. This book sounds so interesting, and the cover looks beautiful. I've heard really good things about this book as well, hope I win!

  6. I'm not a big fan of this genre, but I've heard so many great things I really want to try this novel! Thanks for making it available to a lucky reader. Cheers, Kara S

  7. I'm still very new to steampunk, but I enjoy it very much!

  8. I love that cover! The colors look really nice together, and the girl's dress stands out perfectly without being overbearing. The synopsis is truly captivating, and I must know what happens to Heather and Jonathan. I've heard so many rave reviews about this book, and this has only served to strengthen my desire to read Illusionarium... Thank you so much for the chance to win it! :)