Title: Illusions of Fate
Author: Kiersten White
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: September 9, 2014
"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."
The people of Albion are different from anyone Jessamin has ever known: harsh, uptight, and obsessed with wealth and rank. Jessamin knew as much when she left her sun-drenched island home to attend school in their gray, dreary country. But she had no idea how different they truly were.
She never thought she would discover a house with doors that open onto a hundred corners of the city or a book that spends its days as a bird. She certainly never expected to become a pawn in a political and magical power struggle between the sinister Lord Downpike and the handsome, charming Finn Ackerly. And she never so much as imagined she'd win Finn's affections—or that one day his shadow would follow her every step.
Fortunately for Jessamin, fate has other ideas. . . .
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White was the perfect book for me to read when I read it. I had been mired down when some really deep adult fiction and some mysteries, so there is nothing to lighten up my reading mood like a good ol' comedic fantasy. The book has fantastic characters: a spunky heroine, a pet bird, a persistent love interest, a best friend I want to steal, and a pretty villainous villain. It also reminded me very much of a certain fantasy favorite from my younger years.
It may be unfair to classify Illusions of Fate as a comedy, but the writing is so sharp and witty. I was thoroughly entertained by all aspects of the novel because they were written so well. Yes, I liked the characters, but it was their snappy dialogue that sealed the deal. The issue of racism and sexism were addressed, but not to the point where this was a political book. There was enough deepness to inspire thoughts on morality without being preachy.
Jessamin is, of course, the heroine of the novel. She came from an island country that I would guess was an alternate reality version of a Caribbean or Polynesian island. Albion was England, without a doubt, and that's where her father lived. She went there after blackmailing him to allow her to come to Albion and attend the school at which he was a professor. She was able to blackmail him because Albion men came to Melei, liked the women, and left little light-skinned souvenirs behind, whether they had wives or not. Anywho, Jessa took full advantage of her being born on the wrong side of the sheets and set herself up for a proper education.
Well, that was until she had a run-in with the delectable Finn and got pulled into a magical political struggle. This was new and fun because only the nobility has magical powers. Being as Jessa was only the peasant bastard of a scholarly man, she had no knowledge of magic prior to meeting Finn. And the business with Lord Downpike. But who needs magic when you have your wits, amiright?!
Once Illusions of Fate went fully into the magical stuffies, it reminded me a lot of Howl's Moving Castle. I don't want to say it was just because of the doorways to various places, but maybe. I still thought about it a lot and how sad it was that we don't have Diana Wynne-Jones anymore.
As you can tell, I liked this book very much, but you should know that I had no attachment to the characters. They were all precious and cute, but I felt no sense of danger or tension for them. In dire situations, I happily told myself, "It'll all be okay." And when it wasn't, I just shrugged and went about my business. I had no lack of enjoyment in reading Illusions of Fate, but I doubt I'll be able to tell you everyone's names in a month. Except for Eleanor, because Eleanor was the best.
Illusions of Fate is a very fun fantasy that I was able to zip right through, and I have no doubt that you will enjoy it as much as I did. I've never read anything by Kiersten White before, but I will be reading Paranormalcy or Mind Games soon.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.