Tag Archives: YA Fantasy

Cover Reveal: Ashley Nixon’s CANNON

I’m excited to unveil the third and final cover in my CUTLASS TRILOGY.

 If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first two books in my Trilogy, here they are:

CUTLASS

Cutlass AmazonNotorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

AMAZON


FLINTLOCK

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Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake.

Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.

When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

AMAZON

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Last but not least, if you haven’t read CUTLASS or FLINTLOCK, please to not read the blurb for CANNON.

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CannonPoster-2

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Blurb:


The king is dead, the Network is destroyed, and Barren Reed has been exiled by the Elders of Silver Crest. To make matters worse, the black spot–a curse of dark magic–continues to devour him. It’s true purpose is still unknown, but one thing is certain: It will corrupt Barren in the worst way.

With her greatest secret revealed, Larkin Lee flees Maris. Accused of slaying the king, there’s only one place to go–Silver Crest. But Barren isn’t happy to see her, and their reunion leaves more questions unanswered, including whether they have a future together.

As Datherious rises in power, Barren and Larkin must work together to find the fifth Relic to complete the King’s Gold and prevent Datherious from obtaining control over dark magic, but the black spot has other ideas, and the closer they get to finding the final Relic, the more corrupt Barren becomes. Larkin finds herself in a head to head battle with the only man she’s ever loved and the reality is harsh–only one can walk away alive.

ADD ON GOODREADS!

Alight, that’s all done!

Let me know what you think!


AshleyNixonAuthorPhoto

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. When she’s not writing (haha, like that EVER happens!), she’s probably working out or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go. Type your paragraph here.

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL: Ashley’s Review

clockwork angel

Title: CLOCKWORK ANGEL

Author: CASSANDRA CLARE

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 512

Synopsis: Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Review:

I have read THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS SERIES (just the first three), and I have to say that I liked THE INFERNAL DEVICES more. I’m not sure why–maybe because it didn’t feel like urban fantasy, not that I dislike urban fantasy, but there was just a magic to this world I really enjoyed.

First, I’ll discuss Tessa. I liked Tessa alright, but I also wanted her to be more…modern for her time. She restricted herself to the social constructs of the period even when her circumstances were clearly extra-ordinary. I just wanted a little less ‘well, women aren’t supposed to do that.’ Other than that, I really liked Tessa. Any book-loving individual could relate to her.

Now, Will Herondale was just like Jace in my opinion and maybe *spoiler alert* you could argue that it’s because they’re related, but I don’t really think that’s fair. Will and Jace are the same person, they just have different accents (unless you’re using Jace from the movie). Anyways, I still liked Will even if he was a jerk. I always want to hate the jerks who can’t figure out what they want, but Will is a wounded kid. There’s *something* dark about him, and he’s really trying to hide his true self. You can call it cliche, but I still love it.

Then there’s Jem. Oh, Jem. You’re so sweet and beautiful and you’re so kind. I can sense a love triangle forming, and Tessa’s not the only one in the middle of it. Jem is dying and it’s really sad. He’s truly the only person Will cares for, and he’s very nice to Tessa. Tessa should love Jem, but I don’t really want her to love him…

I loved Charlotte. I felt like she was a very strong female character. Jessamine got on my nervous but she was supposed to, and Henry was very fun and whimsical.

The plot of the story was good–I enjoyed trying to figure out what Tessa was, and I liked the idea of the clockwork army that was neither of heaven or hell. That was another thing that I enjoyed about this book–I didn’t feel overpowered by the whole good and evil bit, or the angel and demon. None of them, the shadowhunters or downworlders were inherently good or evil, and the war bubbling between them was very much rooted in truth. The downworlders felt oppressed under the shadowhunters, but the downworlders were going against the accords.

I’m definitely ready to read CLOCKWORK PRINCE.

4 stars

4star

 

Ashley’s Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

tuomdTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

Pages: 480

Synopsis: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.

Review:

I asked my co-worker to recommend a book that had supernatural elements, featured a girl in High School, and a romance. She suggested THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.

I fell in love.

THIS BOOK. I don’t even know where to start. I’ll just begin with Mara.

After Mara wakes up in the hospital, she learners her best friend, Rachel, her ex-boyfriend, Jude and another girl named Claire were killed when a building collapsed. Mara doesn’t initially remember what happens, but she’s haunted by visions and terrible nightmares. After the incident, she and her family move to Florida where she starts at a new school. There, Mara struggles with PTSD. She also meets the infamous Noah Shaw.

My co-worker gave this comparison of Noah Shaw: He’s Spike from Buffy. He’s even British. There are stereotypes of the male love interest in YA: Noah is a bad boy, he’s rich beyond belief, has an absent parent/parents, BUT, no matter Mara’s crazy (or what she believes is crazy) he sticks with her. He’s how she breaks the surface after drowning (nice cover reference, huh). They’re a beautiful and tragic couple and I love them.

I have to say that I also admired Mara’s brothers. They were hilarious, they were also supportive of Mara…almost in an I-can’t-believe-you’re-sibligins kind of way. Meaning, they NEVER fought. I don’t think Mara could take much fighting. She already didn’t get along with her physiologist mother, fighting with anyone else in her family would have broken her.

Now, let’s discuss plot. We are working with an unreliable narrator which means I never knew if Mara was telling the truth or not, and just when I thought I knew exactly what was happening, I didn’t. You still won’t see the ending coming, even if you’ve believed it at some point while reading the book.

I loved the subtle splash of supernatural in this book, I loved Noah Shaw, and I loved Mara Dyer. On to read the rest! 5 stars!

5star

The SEVEN REALMS SERIES: Ashley’s Review

thedemonkingTitle: The Seven Realms Series (4 books)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 2272

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

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Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling exilequeenat Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

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graywolfthroneHan Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

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A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and thecrimsoncrownHanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

 

Review

THE SEVEN REALMS SERIES is probably one of my favorite series. Did it take me a long time to read? Yes. Why? Well, THE DEMON KING started off slow. I mean, I’m pretty sure it took me about eight months to finish it. That said, something kept me going. I really wanted to know what those silver cuffs were on Han’s wrists. I wanted to know how in the world Han and Raisa were going to work out. I definitely didn’t want Rasia with Micha Bayar because no. By the time I got halfway through the book, there was no putting it down. Onto THE EXILE QUEEN—this was a much faster read. I wanted to shake Han for his rash behavior, but I loved that he was loyal to Rebecca a.k.a. Raisa. I did feel like their relationship was a little insta-love, but Han and Raisa just work so well together I didn’t really mind. The only part of THE EXILE QUEEN that made me mad was how easily Raisa agreed to go with Micah toward the end. Maybe it’s because I hate Micah *shrugs*.

THE GREY WOLF THRONE may easily be my favorite book. It’s different from THE DEMON KING and THE EXILE QUEEN in many ways. The setting feels different, the tone feels different—more determined and melancholy. There is a distancing between Han and Raisa that hurts my heart, but Raisa wants to be queen and she wants to do a good job. Han is empowered as well, and I felt like I really saw him become the leader and the street lord in this book. I saw Han for what Han really was—someone who was tortured, someone who really understood that gritty part of the world that we like to ignore. I liked when Raisa was back in the castle, and seeing her go up against these older men who clearly thought they’d have the upper hand. I also liked seeing how they tried to defy her—even try and kill her—yet she still persevered. I felt like THE EXILE QUEEN was definitely Raisa’s time to shine.

THE CRIMSON CROWN had me on edge the entire time. I loved Han’s determination to marry Raisa because he loved her and for no other reason. He was still pretty reckless, but the way he took on the Wizard Council showed all of his strengths and weaknesses. I was irritated with Han for not sitting down with Raisa to have a conversation about all the double crossing he was doing—then again, if he had, there’d have been no drama, and isn’t that why we read books?! Raisa was also very forgiving. Part of me found this strange, as I felt she should have been a little more angry with Han. Part of me also realized that this just showed how much Raisa truly trusted Han, and that was really endearing. This was completely Han’s book, and if anything demonstrated how Han and Raisa were destined for each other in a way that wasn’t annoying.

I love coming to the end of a series and reflecting on how the characters have changed throughout their journey. My initial impressions of Han were that he was hardworking, determined, and really wanted to be good, but the claws of his street life still had a hold on him. He’s also an outcast and doesn’t really seem to fit in in Maris Pines or in his own home. By the end of the series, he’s made a place for himself, won the person he loves most in the world, and has proven he’s a strong leader.

I loved it.

5star

Death Sworn: Ashley’s Review

DeathSwornTitle: Death Sworn

Author: Leah Cypress

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Ileni is losing her magic. And that means she’s losing everything: her position as the rising star of her people, her purpose in life, and even the young man she loves. Sent to the assassins’ cave hidden deep within the mountains, she expects no one will ever hear from her again. The last two sorcerers sent died within weeks of each other. Accidents? Or something more sinister? As Ileni navigates the dangers—both natural and human—of the caves, she’ll discover secrets that have been kept for decades. And she’ll find an ally in Sorin, the deadly young man who could be the assassins’ next leader. With Sorin determined to protect her, sparks—magical and romantic—will fly. But will even he understand the choice she must make in the end?

Review:

I have to say that I loved Death Sworn by Leah Cypress. IIeni and Sorin had me smiling throughout this whole book.

IIeni is a sorceress who is losing her magic and she doesn’t know why. She’s sent to the assassins’ cave to teach the assassins magic, but told by the Elders that she’s being sent there to figure out what happened to the last two sorcerers (they were both male). She’s really good at faking her power, because, while she’s losing magic, she still has skill. I really liked this about IIeni, and felt that this made her a stronger character.

IIeni is under the protection of an assassin named Sorin who, while listens to the Master’s orders, has a bit of rebellion in him–for instance, he’s explored most of the surrounding caves, has parties when assassins return home from missions (which means they succeeded and made their kill), and he falls in love with IIeni. But it’s not that typical love at first sight thing, and I felt like it was really realistic for the situation IIeni and Sorin were placed. Sorin isn’t one for flattery, either, and tells IIeni that his affection for her was bound to happen because she’s the only female in the caves.

The plot is focused on IIeni, Sorin, and the clues they unearth in an effort to figure out who murdered the other two sorcerers. I liked that, because IIeni was losing her magic, it wasn’t easy to figure out who the murderer was. Throughout the book, there’s this general idea that the Master never makes a mistake and everything happens for a reason, so you as the reader get to try and put the pieces together with IIeni and Sorin.

As far as cons to this novel, I felt like IIeni mentioned how Sorin could kill her way to much. I already knew this because Sorin is an assassin, and her internal dialogue at the beginning of the book. I didn’t need it to be repeated over and over again. Also, I couldn’t quite figure out how old Bazil. He seemed like a child at times, and at other times, an adult.

As far as the world-building is concerned, I felt like Cypress did well considering this novel was isolated to the caves. I’m hoping to get an greater idea of the Empire in DEATH MARKED (which I have started). 4 stars.

4star

AMAZON

Nicole’s Review: MAGONIA

MagoniaTitle: MAGONIA

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 320

Synopsis: Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Review:

I was a little surprised by how much I liked this book. A race of birds? Songbirds that fly in and out of people’s lungs? Sky vessels and squallwhales? There’s plenty of quirkiness to go around, and while it might catch some readers off guard, I found it utterly charming and entrancing!

The worldbuilding was fresh and delightful. I mean, sky vessels?! Maybe it’s a holdover from Disney’s Peter Pan or my love for Goonies and, more recently, Stardust, but I’ve always been captivated by the idea of tall ships sailing the skies. And squallwhales?! I love the idea of giant cloud-wreathed leviathans breathing our weather into being with their songs. MAGONIA fueled my imagination in that rare way that calls to mind childhood wonder and daydreaming just for the joy of it.

Speaking of songs, music lovers will enjoy how Dahvana Headley positions the magic of her music in MAGONIA. It literally has the power to create and destroy. Though this isn’t a new concept in fantasy, her approach feels unique and strangely subtle, given its importance in the book’s climax.

Yet, as much as I loved the worldbuilding, my favorite aspect of MAGONIA was its characters—especially Aza and Jason. They are quirkily perfect for each other and, unlike the insta-love of many YA books these days, readers get to see their deep friendship and love grow throughout the book without being hit over the head with it. Their commitment to each other feels real and extremely strong.

That’s thanks in large part to the fact that they’re both individually strong characters and hilariously funny at times in a dead-pan, inside-joke way that made their voices distinctive and fun to read. They’re each smart, sarcastic and clever. I laughed out loud more than once!
One caveat though: You’ll know by the end of the first chapter if Aza’s voice works for you or not. She can come close to being overpowering or too stream of consciousness-y. I enjoyed it, but it won’t work for everyone.

The first third of the book is almost entirely about battling Aza’s illness on Earth and has an almost “Bridge to Terabithia” feel to it, which I found endearing. The second third introduces readers more deeply to Magonia, the world in the sky, and its inhabitants, and the third wraps up a nice break-in / sky-singing battle climax.

Each of these sections carried a slightly different tone and pacing, and it’s Aza’s and Jason’s voices that anchor the reader and keep drawing us in. The plot does veer a little thin about half-way through the book, or at least I kept expecting more from it, given various hints along the way. The climax itself is very satisfactory, though without the personal stakes of Aza and Jason, I think the external stakes (stealing plants – albeit really rare and cool plants!) would have fallen short for me.

For all the time Aza spends in Magonia, I wish we could know a few of the characters better—especially Dai, Aza’s crewmate and singing partner with a tragic background and mysterious allegiances, and Zal and Ley, captains who played a big role in Aza’s time on Earth and who still have major scores to settle. But, part of my reason for wanting more is that Dahvana Headley paints beautiful descriptions and mysteries that make you want to dive in and learn ALL the reasons.

I did really love Caru, the heartbird. He is everything majestic, free and loyal that you could possibly imagine about a bird of prey. I also had a soft spot for the batsail, who is at once noble and sad. These are great examples of how MAGONIA moves beyond a typical YA to touch deeper heartstrings, deeper lessons of life. I love, love, love books that do this well!

Another element that made me tear up was Dahvana Headley’s lovely and loving portrayal of family. The simple yet ever-strong ties between Aza and her Earth-bound family are frankly breathtaking in several places, and Jason’s family too is close-knit and wonderful.

So, MAGONIA, a bit of quirk, a dash of wonder, and a whole lot of fun!

Four stars.

4star

Find this book on Amazon.

Ashley’s Review: Illusions of Fate

IllusionsFate_cvrTitle: ILLUSIONS OF FATE

Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: Harper Teen

Genre: YA FANTASY

Pages: 288

Synopsis: 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 the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility. It’s a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status . . . and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

Review:

Illusions of Fate is enchanting. I loved it. I loved the magic (though it wasn’t intense), I loved the characters, I loved the love. I loved Sir Bird (I’ll explain).

Illusions of Fate centers around a girl, Jessamin, who is trying to get an education in the face of a lot of discrimination (a very admirable trait). She is from the island of Melei and has dark skin and hair. She doesn’t look anything at all like her Albion counterparts. Jassamin doesn’t have enough  money to pay for school, either, and works in the kitchen at a hotel nearby. She’s very smart and at the head of her classes, though no one pays much attention to her and everyone makes terrible comments.

From what I gather, Albion colonized Melei and all the Albions make terribly assumptions about Melenese people, culture and languages and all of the Melenese people are displaced, killed, stripped of their culture. Jessamin is actually the daughter of a Melenese woman and an Albion man, who happens to also be a professor at the school she attends.

One day, Jessamin meets Finn after she wonders down the wrong street. He saves her and the rest is history. Sort of.

I admired Jessamin because she found it really hard to fit in and yet tried really hard everyday. In the face of adversity, she persevered. She had goals. She wanted to learn as much as she could, then go back to her home and teach. She wasn’t really interested in getting married. I could relate to all of these things. I couldn’t relate to the math analogies though. Nope.

Finn is mysterious in many ways–almost to the point where he’s not completely grounded for me in this book. He’s also a magician and a political figurehead who really wants peace while others push for war. When he meets Jessamin, he’s almost instantly in love with her. Normally, this bugs me, but with Jessamin and Finn, it didn’t as much. I think it’s because the whole idea of this novel was FATE, and also because I liked the dialogue between Jessamin and Finn.

I also liked that while Jessamin didn’t have many friends, she could come to rely on Finn and Eleanor (someone she meets at a party). At first I was afraid that Eleanor wouldn’t be good–that she would betray Jessamin in some way, but that wasn’t Eleanor’s intent. I do wish I would have gotten to see more of how Eleanor schemed. It was hinted at a lot, and shown on a small scale, but we never really got to see how powerful Eleanor could be–and we won’t, apparently, because this is a standalone.

In White’s world, only the elite of society can do magic, which I found disheartening. I’m also not sure how the magic works all that well. I know that Finn stores magic in his cane to use for spells. There’s some physical stuff like powder that makes you speak the truth and some cards that Jessamin pulls from (always the same cards, LOVERS and FATE). Despite not knowing much about where magic is drawn from, everything felt so MAGICAL and I loved that. Like the way Finn and Jessamine escape from Lord Downpike. I just loved it. I also liked that healing magic wasn’t an instant fix. It took time.

Lastly, my favorite character was Sir Bird. He didn’t even speak, but I loved him! He was Jessamin’s savior more than once and comic relief.

Now, I will say, one thing that made me sad was that *spoiler* as things get more dangers, Jessamin leaves school.

I’m a huge advocate for education.

I know things are dangerous, but did she really have to leave? I know at the end she’s considering where she’ll go to school next, but this irritated me.

Overall, LOVED.  4 stars

 

4star