Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Published by HarperTeen
Published on 2014-09-09
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
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Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.
“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.
When I saw the cover of this book, I didn’t care what it was about, I just knew I needed to have it. When I was given the opportunity to review it, I was so excited to jump right in.
This was a nice quick read for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story as a whole. However, I did have an issue here and there that kept me from giving it a higher rating. (I ultimately settled with a 4-star, but trust me, I was on the fence.)
Let me break down my thoughts:
I loved the characters in this book! Lately, female heroines in YA have been kinda “meh” for me, so I was glad to see how well-rounded Jessamin was in this story. There were a couple times I found myself annoyed with her, but she still had a very genuine likability due to the fact that she was a go-getter, caring, and in some ways, pretty fierce. Even though Jessamin has her insecurities, she is willing to face them to protect the ones she loves. SPEAKING OF LOVE, I loved Finn, who is technically her “love interest” (though, I use that term loosely…but I’ll get to that later). Finn created some nice swoon-worthy moments, and had a chivalrous personality of which I found to be very endearing. Another character that I loved very much: Eleanor. Even though Eleanor is a gossip and in some ways, an elitist, she becomes one of Jessamin’s closest friends. Eleanor steals quite a few scenes with her quick wit, and one-liners that at times had me laughing out loud.
I thought the pacing was pretty consistent and smooth from start to finish. Granted, you may feel mildly lost in the beginning (world-building), it pick up pretty quickly, and you’ll be transported straight into the action pretty early.
Mages, wizards, magicians, WHATEVER. I don’t care what you call it, if there’s going to be magic in your book, I’m going to want to read it. I loved the spin on the magic element in this book! (I’ll leave out the deets to keep out the spoilers.) I also loved getting a backstory and a history about how everything came to be. It gave it almost an authentic/believable quality that made it kind of feel like historical fiction, as opposed to just “fantasy”.
I only really have one big gripe:
Where Was The Romance?:
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a hopeless romantic. I’m not a fan of insta-love, and I’m not always looking for a romance-driven plot. HOWEVER, this book left me completely frustrated where the romance element was concerned. As I sort of mentioned before, Finn was *technically* a love interest for Jessamin, YET, there was no real romantic interaction. I know what you’re thinking: “So why would you say he’s a love interest, if the characters didn’t have any outward displays of affection?” It’s pretty clear early on what Finn’s romantic intentions are. Jessamin also addresses her personal feelings about Finn, as well. However, there is no real follow-through. Now, if this had been the first book of a series, (which it’s not, it’s a standalone) it would make sense to have the “slow burn” kind of romance. But, considering the fact that these characters are 17 (Jessamin) and 19 (Finn), and they both spend a good portion of the book flirting, bonding, and talking about their developing feelings for one another, you’d think there would be SOME kind of follow-through. I’m not talking about bumpin’ uglies. I’m talking about goin’ steady, or in the very least, some PG-rated PDA…hell, I’d even settle for some G-Rated PDA. As a reader, I was frustrated by this mainly because of the fact that their romantic feelings for one another kept coming up, and yet neither would act upon it. So it was almost to the point where I’d ask myself: “Why even bring this up?”. It just felt odd to me, and it left me confused and bothered. Don’t worry though, it does get addressed, eventually…but I just thought that the buildup was just a little much, and just didn’t feel organic to the pace of the story.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. I love breaking away from all these multi-book series, and getting a chance to read more quality standalones.