Monday, August 25, 2014

Early Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of Fate
by Kiersten White 
Read: July 3, 2014
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 


  1. It's a SA? Ooh! Awesome! "A few times White lulled me into a sense of happy enjoyment only to BAM throw something at me that greatly upped the tension." This sentence is gorgeous, btw! The story sounds awesome (though why do they have to whitewash the covers, ughhhh >.<) "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." this okay?! THIS. I love smart and witty heroines and Jessa sounds right up that alley :) Whoop for more of a slow-burn on Jessa's part. I'm glad you enjoyed this story as a whole :)

  2. I'm wary of this book despite all the praise because none of Kiersten White's books have worked for me for some reason. I just don't seem to be able to connect with the characters.
    I have to say that I'm starting to want to read this one because of how relationship oriented it seems to be. I also like the sound of Jessa and Finn together.
    I might give in and just request this at the library.
    Lovely review, Lauren.

  3. Amazing review Lauren. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this book. I am curious about it. Kind of. But not curious enough to buy it at the moment :p but I might someday. <3 It's interesting that it is a stand-alone, though :D Jessa and Finn sounds adorable. <3 And omg, I just LOVE the name Finn in books, hih :D Thank you for sharing. <3

  4. I've really enjoyed White's other books so I was planning on reading this one, but now I'm even more excited after reading your review. A stand-alone!!!! Can't tell you how excited I am about that. These series are seriously getting old, I can't even keep up with how many I'm reading right now. Great review! ~Pam

  5. Its really nice posting. I think it would be helpful for all. Thank you for sharing with us.

  6. I had no idea that Illusions of Fate was a stand-alone fantasy novel! I think that's really awesome. I like the sound of this story too, and the fact that the main character happens to be a girl with no powers but still in extremely trying circumstances... and that she has to rise above them. Sounds great to me!

  7. I've heard similar things about the world building of the book but I have to say, your review is somewhat assuring. I am worried that I won't enjoy this all that much since I haven't had much luck with the author in the past and some of my trusted blogger friends haven't enjoyed this one all that much but I feel like there is still hope left! Plus Finn sounds fin (fun.. I was trying to be punny :P) and Jessa definitely sounds like a strong female lead! :D

    Lovely review, Lauren and I am glad you enjoyed this one!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  8. Ooh, now this looks interesting! I was wondering about it. White's books have been hit or miss with me but I love that she tries new storylines and genres all the time. I think I'd like more info on the magical world but the characters sound like they can really hold their own.

  9. I'm not a huge fan of White and I also struggle with world-building more than you do so...would you recommend this for me? I looove a stand-alone novel, diversity, female friendships, and a romance as well so this seems up my alley and I'll likely give it a try unless you absolutely don't think I'd enjoy this. I wouldn't have given this a second thought, though, so thanks for bringing it to my attention, Lauren! Fantastic review, as always. :)

  10. I pre-ordered this, which I hope wasn't a mistake. :P I liked Chaos of Stars okay, but the worldbuilding was pretty nonexistent as was the plot. I hope I like Illusions of Fate more. Everything you said gives me confident, though. Fingers crossed!

    Great review, L. :)

  11. Okay, if you liked this one, I definitely have to check this out! I had mixed feelings about PARANORMALCY so I wasn't sure if I should try this, but this is the second positive review I've seen today for this book. It's a sign, surely. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  12. Yay for standalone fantasies! Seriously, always so happy to find one of those.
    This sounds pretty intriguing, too. And I definitely agree that it's far better to have glimpses of worldbuilding in a novel, with a confidence that the author does know so much more, than for it to feel underdeveloped or flat. I'll definitely have to look into this one!


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