Book Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Book Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten WhiteIllusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 275
Published by HarperTeen on September 9, 2014
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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.
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There aren’t many fantasy stand alones in Young Adult these days; everything has to be this epic trilogy or saga of six books…well Illusions of Fate is a very nice stand alone, that has a clever plot, an adorable romance, and plenty of magic to go around.

Illusions of Fate is set in a world that sounded like the 1800’s, though the setting is fictional. It’s in a land where the nobility possesses magic, and uses it to gain control over others. Jessamin, the heroine of our tale, has no magic, though she learns that she has an insatiable curiosity for it, once it comes bursting into her life. And burst it does, from the first chapter when she meets the charming and handsome Finn, who turns out to be Lord Finley Ackerly, a mysterious noble whom no one knows much about. Jessamin is next to no one, but Finn can’t seem to leave her alone. When more…nefarious forces seem to have the same problem, Jessamin and Finn team up to uncover what exactly is going on behind the shadier nobles’ closed doors.

I really enjoyed this one; it’s a period piece, which is always a nice change of pace from the horde of contemporary and urban fantasy books popular these days. It’s focused on a mix of romance and politics, heavy on the romance, but the other parts of the plot are very important.

Jessamin is not a native of Albion, the land where her hideous and boring father is from, and where she has traveled to continue her schooling. She is out of place, a dark skinned girl surrounded by pale complexions. She is brilliant, stubborn, and while easily scared and intimidated at times, she is willing to take risks to achieve her goals. Finn is a mystery for much of the book. He is certainly dashing and charming, handsome and wealthy, with powerful magic, and powerful feelings for Jessamin. He is tied to her, though Jessamin doesn’t understand this until later in the book.

As I said, the romance is a big part of this book, so if you’re looking for a period piece with a lot of romance, a dash of magic, and some political conflict, you should love this book. Finn and Jessamin have a sweet story, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop; even in the short length of this book (only 275 pages) their relationship didn’t feel rushed to me.

I really loved Eleanor, a noble woman who becomes Jessamin’s friend. She is the queen of gossip and always has something funny and clever to say. She is underestimated by everyone, which somehow makes her even more likable. Also, Sir Bird, a magic familiar, is a nice animal addition to the cast of characters. He and Finn are not on the best of terms, which is endlessly entertaining.

The villain here has some political goals that don’t seem quite as important the story, but help fuel the conflict; there’s also a twist that I wasn’t really expecting.

I really loved Illusions of Fate. I picked it up because the cover is gorgeous, and I ended up wishing it were longer. Perfect for fans of romance with some magic thrown in.

This book is filling the category of “Love the Cover” in my Full House Reading Challenge.

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