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.
Illusions of Fate is a stand-alone (!) YA fantasy title about a girl of mixed-heritage getting caught up in a deadly game of political wrangling by either luck or fate, however you define it. Jessamin is a smart girl who defies the conventions of her day: she’s disinclined towards marriage and would rather dedicate herself to intellectual pursuits as much as she is able despite the negative opinions towards her gender, her race (mixed) and her class (commoner). I’m really rather fond of Jessamin. She has no airs of pretension: she knows what she is and what she isn’t. She’s smart, but grounded, and immensely loyal to her friends, sacrificing her own safety to help others whom she feels were imperiled because of her.One of them is Eleanor, a Society woman with a talent for gossip and a kind and giving heart. Yes, she’s initially eager to capitalize on the gossip that Jessamin’s wave-making causes, but there’s little doubt that by the end of the book she is a true and fast friend of Jessamin. It’s nice to have a book where all the female characters are likable and one are held back by petty jealousy. I wish my female-driven titles would go this route.
The world-building and magic are really quite good. It’s a secondary-world story where factions in England (Albion) would like to go against Spain (Iveria). Magic is accessed through two royal lines – the English side has greater numbers, but weaker magic and the other side has fewer numbers but a much purer and stronger magic. The magic itself is rather scientific in nature, and I like how although Jessamin can’t actually access it herself, she can learn and understand the theory behind it, aiding her immensely in the book’s climax. I love a woman who can save herself!
Finally there’s a nice slow-build up to a chaste romance in this book. I’m genuinely disappointed that this seems to be a stand-alone title: the interplay between them is rather enjoyable and they make a nice couple, I rather wish I could see more of them!
Illusions of Fate is the perfect kind of book for the summer: a fast read with likable characters and a plot that moves along briskly, wasting no words in its brief 275-page running time. While I am disappointed that there isn’t more to be had, I guess that just gives me a reason to go take a look at some of her other works.
Verdict: Buy It
P.S. If you’re like me and have a thing about Cassie Claire, don’t let the comparison in the summary phase you. This book is heads and tails above Cassie in every way, shape and form. Honestly, I’m not even sure why the comparison was made other than to try and sell books.