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Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White eARC {3.5 Stars}

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White is a standalone historical fantasy that combines terrifying magic with rather thoughtful commentary on colonialism and the accompanying racism. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Illusions of Fate and didn’t realize how much magic played a role in its plot. I really enjoyed the magic and world that White created here, to the point that I wish this wasn’t a standalone! The first half of Illusions of Fate was definitely my favorite part of the book, meaning that I ended up being a little disappointed, but it was a fun ride.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Illusions of Fate from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White eARC {3.5 Stars}

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Published by HarperTeen on Sept. 9th, 2014
Genres: Historical Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 275 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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“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.

3.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • Creepy crow magic! Do I really need to say anything else? No, because the more I say, the less surprised and horrified you’ll be as Jessamin discovers the horrible hidden world of magic. But seriously, I can’t look at crows for too long anymore >.>.
  • Jessamin is a really wonderful main character. She’s one of those characters that I would love to be friends with and am kind of disappointed that she isn’t actually real (as far as I know <.< >.>). She says what she is thinking and is harshly realistic about the world and her goals for her place in it. She also refuses to shy away from the consequences of her upbringing in a colonized island nation as she is going to school in the country that thinks it is better than her people.
  • Speaking of colonialism! I love when speculative fiction takes the opportunity to comment on problems that we have in our own world, but in a setting different enough that we can get an outsider’s perspective on the situation. Jessamin and Finn have some great conversations where they both point out the racist assumptions of each other’s cultures, but then work to overcome those painful assumptions in their relationship.
  • The romance between Jessamin and Finn is really quite adorable and proceeds slowly enough that I could believe it while still fitting in to a rather short standalone.
  • Beyond just the creepy crow magic, I enjoyed how magic was treated in Illusions of Fate. Since Jessamin is learning about everything from the outside, the magic maintains an air of mystery that just made me want to read more to learn a tiny bit more. Seriously, can I have a sequel puh-leeeeeeeeeeeease?!

Weaknesses:

  • Honestly beyond the love of the magic and characters, I really want a sequel because there are too many unanswered questions left at the end of Illusions of Fate for me to be completely satisfied. I must know how everything came to be this way and how it works!
  • The plot twist that I assume was supposed to be shocking really didn’t shock me. I didn’t necessarily see it coming, but I just didn’t care enough to even try to figure it out I guess.
  • If you couldn’t tell, the ending in general just fell pretty flat for me. I’m sure that I should have felt emotional and I just felt nothing :-/.
  • I have a pet peeve about a certain aspect of the ending of Illusions of Fate, but I can’t tell you because I don’t want to spoil anything, but this certain pet peeve had me majorly rolling my eyes and led to the half-star less….

Summary:

Illusions of Fate had a very promising beginning that sucked me in and kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed reading about this world and Jessamin very much and would honestly love to read a sequel to spend more time with Miss Jessamin and to answer some of the questions that are left painfully open. While the ending had me shrugging a bit, it was still an enjoyable reading experience overall and since it is so short, I do still recommend reading Illusions of Fate!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I’ve heard such mixed things about this book. The magic sounds awesome, but I’m unsure about the time period. That’s sad that it left so much unanswered and it’s a standalone. The negative reviews make more sense now. Endings are so important!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Happy New Year! and 2014 in booksMy Profile

  2. NOOOO PAINFULLY LEFT OPEN QUESTIONS. I think that’s what honestly kills me the most, because I end up very confused. And I’m sorry to hear that there is no sequel. No chance at all that there will be one? Usually sequels is what answers all the unanswered questions in the first place. Oh well, at least the magic itself was interesting, and Jessamin. I’m still unsure as to whether I want to pick this up. I’m glad you did somewhat enjoy this though!
    Valerie recently posted…Review: The MinnowMy Profile

    • This was definitely billed as a standalone and White tends do standalones or duologies besides her first series. Maybe we’ll get a companion though?

  3. Kiersten White’s books have been very hit or miss for me, but I do love a good discussion of colonialism. And, you know, witches…How would you describe the setting? Does it have a medieval vibe?
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Short Fiction Review: Gifted by Kelley ArmstrongMy Profile

    • Honestly it has a colonialism-era vibe, haha. There is electricity but top hats ya know? So early 1900’s I guess?

  4. I’ve been wanting to read this but the mixed reviews have been putting me off. But now I want to know more about this creepy crow magic! And the world, if it’s so good that you want a sequel.
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland recently posted…2014 End of Year Book SurveyMy Profile

    • I can definitely see where the mixed reviews are coming from given some of the weird pacing, but I think it’s worth reading anyway since it’s short enough ;-)

  5. I completely understand those 3/4 weaknesses (assuming I’m thinking of the right aspect of the ending). It definitely had some lacking elements, but I’m glad you still enjoyed the story overall. And I don’t know about a sequel, but a companion novel set in the same world would be welcome. Great review! :)
    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted…Top 10 Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa BringingMy Profile

  6. I wouldn’t have given this one a second look but I am interested now. Would love to see how it discusses colonialism.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Introducing the 2014 Barney AwardsMy Profile

    • Oh yes then you’ll definitely want to read it since that is really the main focus since Jessa is an outsider looking at the empire ya know?

  7. I’ve heard generally pretty good things about this one, and I’m really interested in it. I read Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy and really loved it but have yet to continue on with the series. I plan to check out Illusions of Fate in the future. Great review, Anya!
    Emily @ Books & Cleverness recently posted…Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsMy Profile

    • I really enjoyed her Mind Games duology and it was fun reading something completely different than that but still with her addictive writing style :D

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