October 29, 2014

Secrets In the Shadows

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins | HarperTeen
Pages: 288 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
“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.

Thoughts on Illusions of Fate
I'd never read anything by Kiersten White before, but I spotted this book at my local bookstore not long after its release and was drawn to the cover. It evoked a certain feeling in me, and I just couldn't resist. I loved that it had a historical fantasy feeling, and the summary was intriguing. I added to my pile of books to look at that day. I was planning on reading a sample but, before I knew it, I'd devoured three chapters. I was hooked! But I didn't buy it that day. I looked it up on Goodreads (as I almost always do now) and was dismayed to see a bunch of 3-star reviews. While that isn't a bad rating, it doesn't shout "BUY ME!" either. I debated purchasing it, but I just couldn't get those ratings out of my mind. So, I left without the book.

I was kicking myself a few days later! I so desperately wanted to know what happened next, and I was mad at myself for being swayed by others' opinions. I am a pretty eclectic reader, and I frequently pick up books that none of my friends have read. So why didn't I get the book and just see for myself? I went back and bought it, and I started reading it that night... I finished it within hours! And, y'all, I totally fell in love. It wasn't a perfect read - I could clearly see what had bothered other readers - but it was practically perfect for me, especially in that moment and for my mood.

I hated to think that I had almost missed it because I relied too heavily on what other people said about it! My experience with Illusions of Fate prompted me to write a discussion post about learning to trust your gut, and I reference my experience with this book in it. When you're really interested in a book, you've got to just try it for yourself! No matter what other people say about it or what the ratings show. The best thing about this book is what it taught me about how I choose what to read!

The cover is what caught my eye, but it was the banter in the first chapter that really sold me on Illusions of Fate. And I was not disappointed in the least! This book isn't really historical fantasy, which I originally expected. Instead, it's more of an alternate history - reminiscent of Victorian England but with magic and completely different countries/places.

Jessamin has left her home on the island of Melei to study at a school in Albion. Nothing has been what she expected, and she would love to return home to her family and all that is familiar. Then, she meets Finn, a gorgeous and charming man who introduces Jessamin to a world of secrets. Filled with power and magic, there are things tying the two together... and a dangerous villain who will stop at nothing to unearth them. Jessamin may not have magic within her grasp, but she's courageous and clever (a deadly combination).

I absolutely loved the world in this book! It was a little bit confusing at first, but I got the hang of it soon enough. I was excited that this was a standalone, but I will admit that I wish I got to spend more time in this world. Maybe I can hope for a companion book one day? The magic was a nice addition, and I liked what it added to the story. It raises the stakes, and it made everything feel just a bit darker and more deadly.

With such delightful characters, I liked the contrast of the darker aspects of the plot. The story was so intriguing! It was intense and suspenseful, and the pacing was almost perfect. Sadly, my one issue with the book was the odd pacing near the end. Everything wraps up just a bit too quickly. It was my only complaint about the book, but it didn't keep me from giving it 5 stars on Goodreads.

The characters are what absolutely won my heart! There's banter galore (HECK YES), and I want to be friends with Jessamin and Eleanor. They're both smart and independent women that will have you rooting for them even after you close the last page. Finn is also amazing! I love how Jessamin challenged him - it added such a great tension to the romance. I mean, seriously. I was grinning the entire time I was reading... It was impossible for me to resist these characters and this romance!

If I wanted to think more critically about Illusions of Fate, I might have a few more thoughts on its flaws. But this was a book that just stole my heart, so I'm rating it for the way I felt about it. Those feelings scream LOVE! A dangerous villain + a powerful secret + scene-stealing secondary characters + a fierce heroine + a charming hero = one very happy reader! I'm so glad I trusted my gut and read Illusions of Fate. It's a new favorite for me, and I can't wait to return to this story in the future.

So Quotable
“Shadows go in front of you, leading into your future, and trail behind you, leaving a part of you in the past. They are clearest when we are in the light, and disappear when we lose ourselves in darkness.”

5 comments:

  1. Hi Hannah! First I want to say I am a frequent reader of your blog but never comment. Tsk Tsk... So today I'm changing that. I have a Kiersten White book on my shelf and haven't read it yet so she is new to me too. I too find sometimes I read a book description and something pulls me and then when I check Good Reads the masses haven't liked it much and I then doubt myself. Which is foolish because who knows better what I will like than me? So keep doing what your doing girlfriend because I enjoy your reviews and insights and let your instinct continue to guide you because from where I am sitting, it hasn't failed you yet!! Have a blessed day!
    Belinda

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  2. I'm really glad that you went out and read this book. I've had instances where I was put off by a book due to the low rating and ended up loving it (and vise versa has happened too). This is a great view and it makes me want to go out and read this book. While I knew about, I just never had a drive to read it.

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  3. Loved this review & your post about trust your gut (it's something we miss sometimes on this community with so many recs), anyway this book is so screaming being a ME book that I'm ashamed to say I didn't pick it up already. Soon, precious, soon (hahaha).

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  4. I had a similar experience with Stitching Snow - the reviews haven't been too great, but I ended up really liking it. I'm glad I decided not to ignore it (makes me wonder what else I've missed out on..)
    I'm definitely in the favorable camp on this one. I thought it was adorable! Loved the light hearted tone, the romance, the banter, the world building. I just wish the ending had been longer!
    Lovely review, Hannah :)

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  5. Ok so this is really wonderful. I've fallen head over heels for this cover too! But I haven't read any reviews of this book yet and it's really a shame. I didn't realize that this was a mixed-review book! I've read the Paranormalcy series and you know what? It's SO MUCH FUN. It's a bit ridiculous at times but it's a fluffy, fun, quick set of books that I loved too. I'm thinking they also had mixed reviews. I LOVE that you trusted your gut and ended up loving this book and I'm sure it looks so lovely on your shelves. That is AWESOME and I wholeheartedly support that any ole day. Good for you, friend! I LOVE this. So much. If I see this one around, maybe I will read it too.

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