Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: 2014
Hardback - 278 Pages
Acquired: Purchased

First Line: "Dear Mama, I am most certainly not dead."
“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.

I bought this book after getting many recommendations. None of which gave me any clue other than that I would enjoy it. So I threw my money at Amazon and waited eagerly for the postman-less holiday season to be over so that it would arrive.

When it finally did arrive it took me a moment to remember where I had heard the author's name. I have only ever read one Kiersten White book in the past and that was Paranormalcy and I never got around to buying or reading the rest of the series. An oversight on my part because I do remember enjoying it.

I found Illusions of Fate quite slow at the beginning. The story seemed to be dragging through the first few chapters until it had introduced the main characters. I found this difficult to keep reading until the first bits of real action began and from then on I was hooked.

The world is amazing but I really do wish that Kiersten had done a little more with the characters and the story itself. That isn't to say that I didn't fall in love with the characters (Lord Downpike being my favourite) but I did feel that some, such as Eleanor and Ernest, could have done with some more depth. I wanted them to be more likeable but I really struggled at times. I also felt that Kellen needed more story time. He wasn't around enough for me to feel as though he was anything more than a forced part of a love triangle for most of the chapters.

I loved the suggested time period and that Jessamin was an outsider. Her dark skin and island upbringing made her the underdog from the very start. Yet she outright refused to let anything, including her father, define who she was. She came across as strong, stubborn and years ahead of her time. She didn't allow herself to simply slip into the role that was given to her, no matter how far the odds were against her at times.

My biggest criticism was that the story seemed to steadily move forward without building any pace at all. Each burst of excitement was followed by a slump back to the same slowness. This would have been fine if it was part of a series, but for a rather short standalone it felt a little too slow. This led to the finale feeling a little rushed.

I wouldn't say that I didn't enjoy this book. I did, very much so. It was quite a light, easy read. But I think I expected a little more from it. I would like to have seen more action, a stronger finale (the twist was one that I seriously did not see coming though!) and I would like to have gotten to know the characters a little better.
Maybe this could have been achieved better if it was a series? I, for one, would love to read more.

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