Christian novelist Frank Peretti, author of This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness and many others, writes about the fascinating blend of physics, enduring love, time travel and faith in Illusion, his first book in seven years.

For 40 years, Dane and Mandy Collins shared a deep love as well as a magic act—until Mandy was killed in a car crash. Dane is left floundering as he seeks to come to terms with his wife’s death and rebuild a life in Hayden, Idaho. Meanwhile, Mandy awakens as a 19-year-old in 2010, even though she was born in 1951. New technologies like cell phones and computers are a mystery to her, and really, all she wants to do is find the (long gone) family farm and her father. Instead, Mandy is held at the Behavioral Health ward of the Spokane County Medical Center on suspicion of mental incompetence.

While held at the facility, Mandy discovers some very unusual powers, including one that enables her to walk out of the building undetected. Maintaining a low profile, Mandy makes her way to Hayden, where she also begins the slow process of building a new life. Fascinated by magic and struggling to make a living as a street performer, Mandy—who now calls herself Eloise—receives some helpful advice from Dane, thus beginning their frequently rocky acquaintance. Dane was warned about the possibility of his mind playing tricks on him, but Eloise bears an uncanny resemblance to his beloved wife. Grudgingly, Dane begins mentoring Eloise, who is just learning about her magical capabilities, like the ability to mentally control objects. While powerful forces rally against Eloise, the mentor and protégé plan a spectacular magic act, the likes of which has never been seen before. But will Eloise be strong enough to survive it?

Illusion is both a mystery/sci-fi story and a sweet tale of timeless love between 60-year-old Dane and the now-teenaged Mandy, although nonbelievers may have difficulty with the obvious Christian message at the novel’s heart. The science behind the plot is sketchy at best, yet that does not take away from the reader’s enjoyment of the story. Excellent character development, a smooth pace and an unusual twist to the time travel theme make for a strong cross-genre story with a satisfying conclusion.

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