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.
And a pretty cover strikes again! I wanted so badly to love Illusions of Fate! The cover, the blurb even the ratings made me believe with all my soul that this would be an AWESOME read for me. So of course when my library received a copy I immediately snatched it up, took it home and began reading it. Sadly, Illusions of Fate just scraped by with a 3 star stamp from me. In fact there are a total of 3 things that did not work for me one bit, and only 2 things that kept this book from getting my big shiny DNF stamp. Let’s start with reason #1.
Jessamine is this beautiful and intelligent woman in a strange place that looks down on her island heritage, dark skin and darker hair. Throughout the book many people even refer to “her kind” as island rats. Something that I understand was a way of showing the mindset of some people but something that genuinely pissed me off. In a way I’m going to count this as a good thing because it made me want to defend Jessa, even though she was perfectly capable of defending herself.
What destroyed her as a character for me was quite simply her attitude. I loved that she was intelligent, resourceful and never a damsel in distress waiting to be saved. I loved that she wasn’t one for love at first sight or the type of girl that lets some random guy whisk her away “for her own safety”. I loved that she was feisty and loyal and ready to throw punches at those who tried to hurt her friends. But her attitude DESTROYED any kind of love I could have had just for her. She goes on and on about how the people of Alben look down their nose at her island heritage. How all they can see is her dark skin and hair and assume she is only good to be a servant or someones temporary play things. How, even though she was top of her class they had all these preconceived notions that everyone from the island of Melei are little more than savages. I understand that she hates Alben, and the majority of the people she has come into contact with are complete jerks but it really grinds my soul that she was a complete hypocrite When Finn comes in, and treats her with kindness (and a smidge of “I’m doing this for your own good) she rips him a new one constantly berating his status as someone with “royal” blood and money. She constantly throws in his face how he doesn’t know hard work or suffering. She stereotyped him the same way she was repeatedly looked at and didn’t blink at the stupidity of it. Finn (dreamy sigh) was nothing but amazingly nice to her. Yeah he tried that “for your own good” nonsense but once he figured out she wouldn’t back down from a fight he treated her as a equal. As someone who was more than “exotic”. He treated her like the intelligent person she was. And this heffah goes on a tirade about him and how she doesn’t want to be a “play thing” and ARGH!!!
Dammit I’m making myself angry. Let me move on to thing # 2 that just did not work for me.
If you know me you know I am not a fan of contemporary. In fact I can only count 2 contemporary stories I have read and absolutely loved (TFIOS and Eleanor & Park) and 0 that I’ve “liked” and about 20 that I aboslutely hated (The Statistical Probability of Love at First sight!). With that in mind, historical fiction is a genre I touch even less than contemporary. I’m not saying the genre itself is bad. It’s just not for me. There is so much detail, and petticoats, and gentlemen callers and oil lamps and weird food/words that I’m just too lazy to fully comprehend. Give me a world built in space and I can visualize it in a way that makes it tangible for me. Take me on a journey to the oil lamp streets filled with horse drawn carriages and I have to work extra hard to stay engaged. Sorry. Not really.
Thing #3 that destroyed Illusions of Fate for me? Well this one is a bit trickier than thing #1 and #2.
It was so SLOOOOW! Even when “things” were happening NOTHING WAS HAPPENING!
This really didn’t help since I was already fighting to stay involved with it being historical in the first place! The world that was built was magical and full of so much potential but I felt the slow plot kind of made all that somewhat meaningless.
But it wasn’t all bad. The biggest thing that kept me going were the supporting characters…namely FINN!!
Finn is the dapper gentleman I think we all sort of dream about. He was considerate and sweet and yummy and *dreamy sigh*. He had this whole “I’m going to ship you off and take control of everything for your own good” thing going at first, but after a bit he pulled his head out of his ass and he just…I mean I wanted….and with his…
Once it’s all said and done, IoF gets a full star for Finn, one for the overall idea and one GIANT star because it’s a standalone. That may not be a huge thing to you but YA standalone hold a special place in my heart and I think this one ended perfectly.