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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Illusion by D.J. Cooper is the second installment of the Bulwark Anthology series which is written by various authors and based on Bulwark by Brit Lunden. Dr. Peter Kent finally asks Deputy Terence Blake out after work so it should be the best day of his life, but that's when everything takes a strange turn. It starts with flickering lights, then time seems to get away from him. As his hallucinations grow more concerning, Peter decides that everything strange happening seems to center around a mysterious cafe and an old road.
D.J. Cooper begins the story with a touch of romantic comedy as Peter is adorably awkward in trying to ask Terence out, but then quickly turns the tables on the two as everything around them seems to get stranger by the minute. The two are cute as they attempt to navigate the beginning possibilities of a relationship. This brings a sweet and innocent aspect to the story that Cooper weaves into a time-distorting plot with an eerie undertone. Bulwark is a town of strange events that grow more ominous as time itself seems to bend before Peter's eyes. Disappearing buildings and bizarre hallucinations include an interesting delve into medieval times and certain food that seems to be the cafe's specialty, adding a light grotesque aspect to the story. Factor this in with Peter's loss of track in time and it's easy to question if his reality is being warped or if it's simply all in his head.
Cooper mostly stays with Peter's perspective as he notes some of the darker strange events and the disorienting loss of time which seems to occur while eating at the cafe, working at the hospital, and finding himself at an old flooded road. Terence's viewpoint is also seen as a way to note other occurrences which involve Peter's odd behavior. A quick read with a build-up of action that's fast-paced and gripping suspense which drives you to keep reading just to find answers about what's happening. The Illusion is a fun installment to the Bulwark Anthology series with a dark undertone, likable characters, and events reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.