Thursday, June 25, 2015

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White book review

White’s new novel had me from the beautiful illustration on the cover to each chapter having a blackbird stare at you while turning the page. Jessamin is from the island of Melei, which is a colony of Albion. She has earned/bribed her way into a boarding school and found a room at a local hotel, where she also works part time. She has mostly kept to herself until she bumps into Finn (Lord Ackerly) and her world changes. Her introduction into this magical world began with torture and then she was thrown into the world of nobility, which was very unexpected. This new world is full of magic, political intrigue and deception. Jessamin does not have any magical powers, but she has the brains to think herself out of seemingly impossible situations.

The setting is very reminiscent of Victorian London, but in an alternate reality with different names. Jessamin is a colonist, thus a second class citizen. She only came to Albion to get an education. Her father, who is a professor at her school, got her in but doesn’t really support her in any other way. Finn is breaking all the rules of nobility by associating with Jessamin, but he inadvertently got her involved in his world. This book is a blend of historical fiction, magic, romance and adventure. Jessamin is the narrator and it reads like realistic fiction. White created a few likeable characters that will grow on the reader and the evil Lord Downpike is a well portrayed as a villain. I disagree with the Kirkus review that says the characters are stereotypical because the twists at the end were quite unexpected to me. I would say that this book would be appropriate for most high school libraries. There is nothing controversial that stood out to me. I love that Jessamin was smart, good at math and logic, took her studies seriously and was brave in the face of danger. This book could be used for free reading and would fit well with fantasy and paranormal book displays in the school library. I really enjoyed this fantastical world. It was a gripping, fun read that is perfect for vacation or summer reading.