FLOATING ILLUSIONS by Chelsea Quinn Yarbo


Email this review


The author of Locadio's Apprentice and Four Horses For Tishtry sets her third historical novel aboard a turn-of-the-century ocean liner, in a well-plotted, suspenseful murder mystery that makes good use of post-Victorian attitudes and manners. Sensible, highly intelligent Millicent Cathcart, 14, divides her time between her wealthy father in New York, her mother in Europe, and a Swiss boarding school. While sailing back to Europe in the company of her widowed, very Victorian Aunt Mehitabel, Millicent befriends an attractive magician, the Incredible Anton, and becomes interested in the tricks behind his illusions. When three passengers are murdered, Anton is the prime suspect, since most aboard are firmly and foolishly convinced he has supernatural powers. Meanwhile, Millicent, determined to clear her friend, discovers he's actually a Bohemian archduke, the last of his line, and the target of enemies who want to keep him from claiming his title. With clearheaded deductive energy, Millicent proves Anton's innocence and discovers the murderer, albeit almost becoming impaled in the process (both physically and socially). Like Millicent, the reader is an observer of the past and future--the 19th century giving way to the 20th. It's clear Millicent will grow and mature with the century, but as a true individual, choosing her own destiny. Readers have a solid mystery to enjoy here; they also have a character whose individuality mirrors their own emerging sense of self.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Page count: 219pp
Publisher: Harper & Row