Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of FateIllusions of Fate by Kiersten White (HarperTeen, 9 September 2014)

Full starFull starFull starFull starHalf star

A good standalone YA fantasy novel is such a refreshing thing. ILLUSIONS OF FATE is the perfect pick-me-up for anyone looking for a break from having too many feelings over an epic series. If you're looking for a short and sweet historical fantasy that's guaranteed to leave you smiling, with a lovely romance and great characters, look no further.

Jessamin is from the warm and sunny island of Melei, which has been colonised by cold and dreary Albion. Now a history student in Albion, Jessamin runs into more excitement than she'd ever have imagined when she meets Finn, a young nobleman who is entangled in political intrigue. Jessamin can't get Finn off her mind – and soon she realises how dangerous that can be, for both her and Finn, when she's dragged headlong into an unknown world of power and magic, which only the nobility can wield.

I fell in insta-love with this book. I warmed to Jessamin's voice immediately, and I could just relate to her so much. I'm from Hong Kong, and I've been studying in England since the age of 11. This book is a historical fantasy so Albion is meant to be a kind of alternate Victorian England, and the author's mentioned that she thinks of Melei as a version of one of the Polynesian islands. A lot of what Jessamin said about missing the sun and the warmth of her home, and how she knew Alben better than she knew her own native language Melenese – I really understood how she felt! This moment on p.21 sealed my love for the book:

I don’t even think in Melenese, and most of my dreams are narrated in the harsher tones of this country’s language.

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

I honestly just loved that the book was about a PoC main character living in the country which colonised hers, and we got to read about her awesome opinions on how much colonialism sucks, and also how much she hates being treated like an exotic creature. A YA book which explores postcolonialism and racial fetishism!! HOW UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME.

Jessamin is just so inquisitive and clever – she's really into maths and science but sadly they don't think that a woman should learn those things, so she picks history instead, but she still studies all the maths she can in her spare time. And when she comes into contact with magic, even though she can't personally do magic herself because she lacks noble blood, she studies it anyway and she thinks of a way to manipulate it. SHE'S THE BEST. She's such a strong character! She goes through so much in this book but she's incredibly brave and she never backs down from danger.

The romance was wonderful as well. SO SWOONY AND HEART-MELTY. Finn is as charming and dashing as any book boyfriend should be. I loved all the conversations between him and Jessamin. The two of them clearly have so much chemistry from the get-go, and their interactions just spark and leap off the page. Such sharp dialogue!

Jessamin also makes a friend called Eleanor, who is JUST ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. Oh my god, I adoooore Eleanor. She makes everyone think that she's just a simple girl who's into gossip, and she is totally into gossip but when you're part of the aristocratic and political circle, gossip is IMPORTANT. And Eleanor is really good at gossip. She's also just a plain delight and a really good friend to Jessamin, and I loved how often the two of them complimented each other, and how whenever Jessamin told Eleanor how smart she was, Eleanor was just like "I KNOW RIGHT I'M SO AWESOME". That's the kind of girl I like! The kind that recognises how awesome she is.

The villain in this book is also pretty villainous and he absolutely repulsed me while managing to be horrifically intriguing. Villains in books don't often really leave an impression on me but this one certainly did.

My one complaint is that the ending was really quite rushed, but I loved the twist. I could have done with a bit more explanation on some things, but I still think this book still did pretty well for a standalone. It managed to draw me in and create an enchanting world and a set of very convincing characters and pull off a fairly tight plot. I didn't feel like any character we were introduced to in this book went wasted. It wasn't the kind of book with so many characters you're wondering what they're all doing here, but pretty much every character had a role to play. I just really loved it from start to finish and I WANT EVERYONE TO READ THIS. EVERYONE. (And despite admiring it as a standalone, I wouldn't mind a whole series of this. I really wouldn't.)

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

13 thoughts on “Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

    1. Post author

      :D :D Hahaha I've had a lot of luck lately with my books! I'm happy though to be able to give so many books high ratings because they all deserve them. This book is very short (only 275 pages) so you should definitely give it a go! It won't take long and it'll be worth it.

  1. THAT'S IT. I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK ASAP. Maybe shall fit it in the budget for next month...

    I've met the author once before, and she's really hilarious to listen to; I think the best thing she said was "I listened to Taylor Swift's 'Out of the Woods' and was kind of hoping for it to be about monster girls who have embraced their inner power walking out of the forest to take everyone down, but no." That right there was when I knew I liked her :P
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

    1. Post author

      OMG she does sound absolutely hilarious. :D :D I really wanted to read her other books after I loved this one so much but they all have much more mixed reviews and I'm not sure I want to try them anymore but I'd definitely be open to reading anything she writes in the future!

    1. Post author

      Jessamin is a really wonderful female character! I have absolutely no interest in STEM myself, being a humanities girl through and through, but it's definitely awesome to read about girls in STEM! It's honestly a great book. :D

  2. Your first sentence is SPOT-ON. It's getting tiring needing to commit to trilogies all the time. WE NEED MORE GOOD STANDALONES. And this sounds like the perfect fluffy fantasy read, so I'll be sure to keep it in mind if I ever need something like that. Isn't it so great when you can connect so deeply with a fictional character? It's pretty much the best feeling in the world. I don't think I'll be able to relate as well to Jessamin as you did, but her voice does sound like it was done very realistically.

    And I have to admit... As much as I dislike most YA romances these days, I'm kind of curious about this one. Hey, you said it's shippable, okay. Anything that's shippable always grabs my attention. CAN'T HELP IT. And finally, a character who's into gossip but isn't a total bitch! There's nothing wrong in liking gossip just as long as you don't go acting horrible about it. Unfortunately, authors seem to think that bitchiness and the love for gossip come hand-in-hand.

    This book is by Kiersten White, though. I haven't read anything by her, but by the sound of it, a lot of people either love her stories, or hate them. And I've seen more negative reviews for her books than anything else. Gah, I don't know. Illusions of Fate sounds wonderful, and I love the cover (THAT TEACUP), so I'm still not sure. Wait. I shouldn't even be thinking about getting new books since I haven't finished the ones I have now. *melts into a puddle of goo*
    Megan recently posted My Initial Thoughts Were Wrong: Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard

    1. Post author

      YES. I WANT MORE GOOD STANDALONES. It's just so intimidating having all these long epic series that I need to start reading, and all these first books of series coming out and I'm just like BUT WHEN WILL WE EVER GET THE SECOND BOOK. Waiting is hard.

      YES OH MY GOD. All my friends and I love gossip and we're all very nice people. There's nothing wrong with liking gossip! It's just fun learning about all the interesting and salacious stuff that other people are apparently getting up to. :D Eleanor is into gossip but she's super lovely and funny and she and Jessamin are constantly helping each other out. I WANNA READ A WHOLE BOOK JUST ABOUT THEM BEING ADORABLE FRIENDS.

      I think Illusions of Fate is one of her better works? Not that I've read any of her other ones – because I liked this so much I wanted to check out some of her other books but as soon as I looked at the Goodreads reviews for those I was really put off! But Illusions of Fate seems to have better reviews on the whole. The one place where it is just a bit of a let down is the ending. But other than that it's wonderful!

    1. Post author

      I know, Cayce! This one is just really short so I guess it wouldn't be a huge waste of time even if it turned out you didn't like it, haha. If you do try it I'd love to hear what you make of it. :D

    1. Post author

      Yeah, I did get a bit overexcited about this book. IT WAS JUST SOOOO GOOD. I couldn't believe how I was just like, smitten from this book from the very first page. You should definitely pick it up and give it a go! It's under 300 pages and it'll absolutely fly by.

Go back up to leave a comment