A very positive surprise!
Author: Illusions of Fate
Title: Kiersten White
Release date: 9th of September 2014
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Fantasy, Historical
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 288 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
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, 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.
I’ve read so much positive feedback regarding this book that I had to have it in my TBR pile, even though, I deleted it some time ago due to the pile being unbearably huge already. I’m, however, glad that I decided to give this a second chance, because it seems, it got an awesome 5 stars!
There is so much to appreciate about this lovely and magical stand-alone, so here are some aspects I loved:
The world-creating is simply marvelous, it’s detailed yet doesn’t overwhelmed you and has endless possibilities. The idea is also more on the original side with aristocrats wielding magic that ordinary people have no idea about. In addition, the topic of conquered and colonized culture against the dominating one was intriguing and provided color. The setting was great as well, historical fantasy YA always has something mysterious and compelling about it.
The whole relationship of Jessamin and Finn was über cute and sweet, and not only because she’s the poor servant girl and he the dashing Lord. The whole shadow thing and them arguing and fighting each other and then her just fighting him and him trying to court her and all the glorious banter - oh the brilliant banter! They were so adorable together, shy and awkward, but the chemistry was definitely all there. Oh, and the cards were a really romantic touch.
I respected and adored Jessamin, she had attitude, was independent, self-sufficient and while she could be be too stubborn at times and that would annoy me, she was brave and a role-model. Also, kudos to the author for making her darker skinned, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a heroine who wasn’t Caucasian or Asian, it simply hasn’t crossed my path. Finn was as well very likable and incredibly charming and boyish. Rich, powerful and handsome, he was the whole package, but he was also simply an all-around nice guy.
I really welcomed the sinister and vicious villain in this, he was just dastardly and I thought it worked superbly for the plot and magical world. I also have to give a shout out to Eleanor, a remarkably humorous, tricky and politely smart-ass friend that Jassamin makes. Mr Bird was his own person as well, who cares if he was only a crow.
What didn’t work (but I didn’t mind as much, because everything else was just so delightful):
While I’m so glad that there is no sequel, having this as a stand-alone, I would have wanted more. More background information about the political, social and magic related topics, a million times more romance, swoony moments and simply scenes spent together with Jessamin and Finn – there were far too little, they were sufficient, but when something is done so right, one always craves for more. I think the possibilities to explore and what to focus on in this world were quite vast and limitless.
The ending was rushed and the final twist, while intriguing, felt odd and out-of-place, simply because it went by so fast that I never had time to mull it over and have myself come to terms with how everything unrolled and what was revealed. Some of the connections and explanations were kind of weak as well.
I’m again soooo glad I gave this story a second glance, because I would have missed out on a lot. It’s a charming, emotional, well-written and well-imagined story, yes, it’s short and flies by like magic, but it’s one of the most delicious short book-bites I’ve had in a long while. I definitely have to check out others books by this author!