Illusions of Fate

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Illusions of Fate Book Poster Image
Romantic page-turner has stellar heroine of color.

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age 12+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Both the country of Albion and the colony of Melei are made-up places, but the struggles of the Melenese against prejudice (they're darker-skinned) and to maintain their own culture and language mirror that of real colonies in the not-too-distant past. Readers also can compare the magical lore in this book with that in other books.

Positive Messages

There's a struggle of good vs. evil in this hidden magical world. Evil manifests itself as revenge and a desire for power and control over others. Good is a desire for justice, true love, and freedom from prejudice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jessamin has a Melenese mother and Albion father and faces prejudice both as a minority and a scholarly woman. She works hard for what she wants and refuses to hide in fear when she's threatened.


A few deaths, one of them sad and sudden (by twisted neck), and the others by fire and gunshot. An illness brings someone near death. Fingers are broken one by one with a hammer and later magically mended. A woman is attacked by birds. Mention that a man's mother was raped by soldiers when he was young and that he then beat up the soldiers. Mention that someone's parents were murdered in a gruesome way that's not divulged.


A few kisses, and a scene where Jessamin and Finn share a bed, although nothing happens. A crude drawing of a woman's body and talk of a past summer romance with stolen kisses. A mention of prostitution and men from Albion having affairs and children with Melenese women.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Finn is 19, and Jessamin is slightly younger. They both drink champagne at a gala and brandy in another scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Illusions of Fate is a fantasy romance from Kiersten Whitethe author of The Chaos of Stars and the bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy. The violence is pretty mild for fantasy, with a few deaths -- one very sudden -- and the breaking of fingers with a hammer, with the fingers being magically mended shortly thereafter. The romance stays focused on fate and true love with only a couple of kisses. The underage couple drinks champagne and brandy. Girl readers will especially enjoy the headstrong heroine of color who faces prejudice and refuses to hide from danger; she's ready to conquer it with her intellect.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byrebma97 May 27, 2017

Very good, should be a series

This was a really good novel! I loved Jessamin - she's a strong-willed character who uses her smarts to save herself and others. And Finn is an interesting... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Jessamin left the island of Melei for an education in Albion. She was aware that there would be prejudice against her for being a dark-skinned, intelligent woman from one of the Albion colonies but still didn't realize life would be so hard. She can't afford the dorms, works with her cousin at a hotel, and barely gets enough to eat. Heading home late one evening, she's cornered by a dockworker in an alley until a mysterious nobleman steps in. Finn takes Jessamin to dinner and is immediately entranced by her but knows he needs to keep his distance. Like all nobles around the world, Finn can wield magic, and he's better than most in Albion. He possesses secret knowledge others desire, and they're looking for a way to make him give up those secrets. But as Finn tries to walk away from Jessamin for the last time, his shadow follows her; a kind of romantic magic he can't control. Now the enemy knows his biggest weakness, and Jessamin's in danger.

Is it any good?

The saddest thing about ILLUSIONS OF FATE is that unless the fates magically turn this into a series, it's the last we'll see of Jessamin, a rather fantastic heroine. She's brilliant and fiercely independent and quite funny, especially when she writes home to her overbearing mother. Finn also is a catch of a mysterious romantic interest. Seeing the sparks that fly between the two -- the dialogue is especially strong -- makes this a real page-turner. 

The magical world that author Kiersten White creates also intrigues -- with some aspects (the dual shadows, birds that turn into books) intriguing more than others. Some aspects are a little unbelievable, such as Jessamin's lightning-fast grasp of the magical world and how she can manipulate it. Still, the ending will definitely surprise and satisfy.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the prejudice Jessamin faces, as a person of color, as a foreigner, as a woman, and even as someone not of the class that can do magic. When she feels out of place, how does she handle it? 

  • How does the magic in Illusions of Fate compare with other magical lore? What is the role of the birds? Where does Finn store his magic spells, and why? 

  • Neither Melei nor Albion is a real place, but how are some of the struggles of the Melenese similar to those faced by British colonies in the Victorian era? 

Book details

  • Author: Kiersten White
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Publication date: September 9, 2014
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
  • Number of pages: 288
  • Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and magic

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