Thursday, October 9, 2014

All Things Halloween Review - Illusions of Fate

Illusions of Fate

By: Kiersten White

Published: September 9th 2014 by HarperTeen

288 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--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.

I went into Illusions of Fate with relatively low expectations. I don’t really have a reason why I had low expectations, but I just wasn’t expecting much from this book. Illusions of Fate is my first Kiersten White read even though I’ve owned Paranormalcy for quite some time. First let me say that having read this book, I think the cover is so fitting. The tea cup and the black birds. Plus I like the fact that the cover model is shadowed. In Illusions of Fate Jessamin is described as being darker skinned than most of the people around her because she comes from a different country (an island country), but I wasn’t sure how dark skinned Jessamin is. So just having the cover model shadowed a bit gave me the same kind of impression as the book did.

I don’t know where the book description of “Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare” came from for this book. Illusions of Fate has a historical fiction feel so maybe that’s where the Downton Abbey comparison came from, but I’m not sure. When I heard Downton Abbey I was thinking the serving class having their own dramas underneath the first class and their dramas. While there was some class distinction, Illusions of Fate doesn’t remind me of Downton Abbey…at all. I think that comparison makes no sense. As for Cassandra Clare…I don’t know. Maybe that’s more accurate, but only slightly. There’s supernatural. There’s magic. But there isn’t demons or vampires or angels. The writing styles didn't even feel similar to me either. In Illusions of Fate there’s familiars and spells and curses. But again, I don’t think “Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare” is an accurate description…at all.

Jessamin as a character was pretty relatable. She’s from Melei which is an island known by the Albien’s as being fairly primitive. So she’s looked down upon by her peers. She came to Albien as a student. And her classmates don’t associate with her because she’s looked upon as being less. She works in a hotel kitchen run by her cousin so the guests look down upon her too. But she catches the eye of a nobleman, Finn, and he sees past her social class and race. Unfortunately because Finn has notice Jessamin, so has Finn’s enemies. Finn himself was easy to get caught up in. Although, I had a hard time picturing him as being only nineteen years old. He describes himself as the “oldest nineteen-year-old alive.” Yet I still had a hard time reconciling nineteen with his character. I think even his early twenties would have made more sense. He felt older, and since his age only came into play when Jessamin asked him how old he was, this could have been a detail easily changed.

Jessamin and Finn’s relationship built slowly. They had an initial attraction and maybe Finn’s shadow self was a bit hasty, but it took longer for Jessamin to come around. In this aspect, she felt a little dense considering how clever she’s repeatedly described to be. I worried for a bit if we’d have to deal with a love triangle, but that was never really a problem.

My only real problem with Illusions of Fate centered around the ending. It wasn’t that it was a bad ending, but it felt a bit rushed. Some of the facts that came out toward the end of the book had me wondering if Illusions of Fate was going to turn into a series. I thought there would be no way to wrap up all of the loose ends with the amount of time left. Eventually I discovered that all of the ends were tied, but I would say most of them were hastily tied. And the resolution felt too easy. It didn’t bother me too much, but I would have been okay with a little more length added to this book in order to make the ending a bit more solid.

Favorite quotes:

-What nonsense is my heart pattering out?

-It makes a soul lonely when even your tongue has no home.

-“I have had a series of misfortunes since we met…”

-In place of comforting news about my marriageability and future grandchildren, please know I have adopted a bird.

-I’ve been making choices, but I haven’t been deliberate or thoughtful about them.

-“You forgot ‘dashingly handsome.’ Dear friend is nice but hardly covers the extent of my qualities.” Eleanor looks up from her own letter writing. “How did she describe me? Because I have always preferred my eyes to be referred to as the ‘color of a storm-tossed sea.’ If either of you were wondering.” “You did not fare much better. In fact, I think I am ahead. I am a ’dear friend,’ and you are merely ‘recently ill.’”

And though not part of the actual book itself, Kiersten White says in the Acknowledgements “First, always, thanks go to Noah. My shadow may stay put, but my heart couldn’t help but jump to you.” I just love reading acknowledgements. Does anyone else read those besides me?

My first Kiesten White experience went off better than I expected. I wanted to know more by the end of the first chapter and was officially hooked by about the 30% mark. Even though the ending was slightly too quickly and too easily resolved, I enjoyed this experience. And I’m giving Illusions of Fate 4 Stars. Have you read Illusions of Fate? What did you think? Let me know!

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.


  1. Amber @ Fall Into BooksOctober 9, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    I read Illusions of Fate, but I think you enjoyed it a bit more than I did. I didn't hate the book. I liked it fine, but I didn't love it. I'm glad that you enjoyed it more, though! White's books are hit or miss for me. I love some of them (the Mind Games duology) and really don't like others (the Paranormalcy trilogy and Chaos of Stars). Anyway, I'm glad you liked this book! Great review :)

    Amber @ Fall Into Books

  2. This sounds good, Sandy! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I haven't read White, but maybe I should give her a try... someday. Right now, I really need to focus on the books I have!

  3. Oh I hate to hear that you didn't really enjoy it. But I can see how you might not have enjoyed it if you didn't like her Paranormalcy series. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Amber!

  4. I definitely understand needing to focus on the ones you already have. I'm there too for sure! Thanks for stopping by and commenting Lark!

  5. After reading your synopsis/review I have to agree that comparing it to Downton Abbey is a bit misleading. Nice review though, I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I go through a fantasy binge.

  6. I definitely enjoyed it more than I expected it to, even if it wasn't exactly as advertised. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Whitney!