October 7, 2014

Latest Read: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Publication date: Sept. 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Category: Young Adult - Paranormal
Source: Received from publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him. (Adapted goodreads.com)


The good
It's rare that I agree with book comparisons but calling Illusions of Fate a mix of "Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare" was pretty spot on. Jessamin is an intelligent island girl from Melei who decides to move to the uptight, rigid country of Albion to create a different life for herself. Her mother was rushing to marry her off to next rich eligible man but that's not what Jessamin wanted. Instead she came to Albion against her mother's wishes and it's not going as she had hoped. She's considered an outcast among the community and her fellow classmates because of her nationality and darker skin. Plus she's working part-time at a hotel for room and board where she's barely making ends meet. It's not exactly the glamorous life. Then she meets Finn who is mysterious but kind and unknowingly draws her into the secret magical world of Albion's high society nobles, specifically to the attention of the infamous Lord Downpike. Against her better judgement, Jessamin continues to delve deeper into what this all means and it turns out she is one of the few people who can stand alongside Finn to stop Lord Downpike.

The best part of the book was undoubtedly Jessamin. Through her character, we get a proud, strong but also vulnerable heroine and the author uses her to make a statement about how minorities are sometimes treated (at least that was my understanding!). She's feisty and snarky, two qualities that come out particularly in her letters to her mother (she always provides internal commentary) and of course, when she's around Finn. Their relationship was simultaneously insta-love like and also really slow? I think the latter was to make it more in line with the conservative times but I personally could've used a little more swoon. Although the banter was spot on.

(Some) reservations
Being that it's a standalone fantasy (unheard of!) and not incredibly long, I suppose only so much time can be spent building up a cast of characters and their world but I felt that part was somewhat lacking here. Given the limitations, the author did provide a fair amount of details in her world-building and with the characters she did introduce, such as the people from Jessamin's life back on the island and a friend she makes in Albion. But the book and the general plot needed something more -- development? emotional connection? -- for me to really feel invested.

Do I recommend?
I do despite my own reservations. I can see why so many people have enjoyed it and if you want a short but entertaining fantasy novel to speed through, this might be the right choice for you.

Happy reading!

4 comments:

  1. I have this on my shelf to read, but was also hesitant because it's a fantasy novel and there's only one. But I've enjoyed some one offs before, so maybe I'll check it out? I like long, sweeping sagas and I want all my favorite books to go on forever.

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  2. I like that it lived up to its comparison because it is a really intriguing one! I like that about it, as well as that it's short and standalone. :) Great review, Rachel!

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  3. What I do think is interesting is that Illusions of Fate is a standalone fantasy! Those are pretty rare nowadays, and that definitely gets my attention. Plus, I do like the fact that she doesn't seem like your typical main character either!

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  4. Standalone books these dare are rare in general, let alone for the fantasy genre. And despite it now 'wowing' you and many others, I do want to read this one as a light, fun fantasy read.

    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

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