Monday, August 25, 2014
Early Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
by Kiersten White
Read: July 3, 2014
Published: September 9, 2014 by Harper Teen
Source: Edelweiss (Thank you, HarperCollins)
Category: Fantasy, magic, YA,
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
Book description: “I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”
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.
Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray
I had a great time reading Illusions of Fate. It was refreshing to read a fantasy book that is a standalone. The story is overall on the lighter side, and was the perfect book to read during a busy week, when couldn't handle anything too emotionally taxing. Still, there are some intense moments in these pages, and one revelation that shocked me. A few times White lulled me into a sense of happy enjoyment only to BAM throw something at me that greatly upped the tension.
Jessamine is of mixed race (although you can't really tell that from the cover). She comes from the small island Melei where wealthy vacationers often have relationships - i.e. flings - with the native inhabitants. Jessa is the product of exactly such a situation. Trying to escape her mother's designs to marry her off, Jessa has recently moved to a larger city in the country of Albion to attend the boarding school where her father works. Jessa is determined to succeed, but she is struggling with prejudices from her classmates, must work to support herself and isn't getting any help from her dad, whom she essentially bribed to get into the school.
From the beginning I liked Jessa. She is smart and determined, despite the odds against her. In this society it is the royalty alone who possess magic, and when Jessa gets caught up in a dangerous power struggle with some of them, she must do it without the aid of any sort of powers. I appreciate that this isn't the typical story of a girl who suddenly discovers that she has hidden abilities she didn't know about. Jessa is at a distinct disadvantage, and must rely on her brain and wit to survive, which she thankfully has in abundance. Jessa also finds some very helpful allies, but in many situations, she has only her self to count on.
One of Jessa's new friends is a society girl named Eleanor. I loved this girl. She comes off as shallow and flighty, but it's clear she's a lot smarter than the front she portrays to the world. Eleanor's interactions with Jessa were always fun. Everyone needs a friend like her. This book also contains a romance that is sweet and on the lighter side. Mysterious love interest Finn also had great banter with Jessa. I like that Jessa didn't let him get away with his schemes to keep her safe, and that her feelings for him grew over time. Though his affections seemed a bit more instant.
This standalone is more heavily focused on relationships, and we are shown only a little bit of this magical world. I was left with a feeling that it is a lot vaster than what we see in Jessamin's story, and I do wish that we'd been able to learn more about it. But I found what we did learn to be interesting. I also would rather leave a book feeling like I only got a tiny glimpse of a complex world, than a sense of flatness: feeling like an author only created what she needed to for the story. This story thankfully fell under the former category for me.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone