Yes, it has been a while. I have conquered NaNoWriMo, and now return to you stronger, wiser, and exhausted. So, obviously, it’s time to read & recuperate.
Her vision blurred, but the red sticky blood coating her palm couldn’t be denied. “Why do people keep shooting me?”
Illusionary by Desiree Williams is a New Adult Fantasy novel (the main character is 19 years old, I am counting this as NA and no one can convince me otherwise!) about a young woman who trips and falls into another world. Literally.
Once there, she meets a band of boys, lead by a young man with unusual powers, and goes on a quest to save the ‘Maker’ of the world. Hilarity, sweetness and wonder ensue. This novel was an unexpected pleasure for me. I fully expected to enjoy the premise, but was surprised at some of the ways it bucked clichés and stereotypes.
For starters, the main character, Kamryn, is anything but a damsel in distress. Too often books with this premise opt for a helpless damsel who pathetically cowers in a corner or shyly won’t talk much. Kamryn, while ill-prepared for the land of Ur, has backbone and spunk. Not only does she make friends quickly, she stands up for herself and immediately starts making plans to take self-defense classes whenever she can get herself back home. All this is not to say she isn’t a well-rounded person with her own weaknesses, but when she does suffer from doubts or sadness she handles it well and bounces back. As such, she felt real and relatable.
Williams does an excellent job world-building here, not too much, but just enough to supply my brain what it needed and my imagination was easily able to fill in the rest. Matter of fact, the world-building here was so smooth and seamless, I barely noticed it. Personally, I much prefer this route as a character-centric reader/writer. The land of Ur is an interesting, bright and varied place. I thought the creatures that Williams created to fill this land were fascinating and, if it weren’t for the rather disturbing nature of some of them, would love to see illustrations.
Let’s talk about our supporting characters briefly. The band of young boys, hugely reminiscent of Peter Pan‘s Lost Boys, were a fun addition to the story. I loved how they put Kamryn in a Wendy-esque light, especially since she left 2 young nephews behind in the real world. Each boy was easily discernible and memorable, and I was a little sad that they didn’t feature a bit more in the story.
Paloma added a dollop of interesting to the tale, reminding me of a cross between the Glenda the Good Witch and The Red Queen…yeah, try to figure that one out. I liked that she was eccentric and also quite stubborn, but seemed to have a good heart. We can’t leave out Torin, of course, who seemed to be both a mentor figure to Reese and a brother. I wished for more background on his character, and a little more interaction between him and Reese. He seemed to be the grounding character in this tale of a magical and distant land, and he did it in a warm and persuasive fashion.
Okay, what we have all been waiting for; Reese. I have read a lot (and when I say a lot, you better believe it means a ton) of fantasy books with romantic subplots, which is to say: I’ve met quite a few swoon-worth male leads. Here is the highest compliment I can give this type of character:
Reese stands out. Not because he is extra handsome, or extra flirty or even extra bad-boy. Instead, he stands out because of his weakness. No, he is not a weak, wimpy guy. Far from it. However, he does experience within the plot of this book, moments of extreme physical weakness. Rather than act like a jerk or being super distant, he is able to rise above these moments and work through. That is true strength. Not only that, but the twist in this story reveals a true hardship, both mental and physical that he must conquer. And he goes for it.
I came away from this novel respecting Reese, and admiring him. Sure, he has his swoon-worthy moments, and those are fun, but more than that, he seems to be ‘just what a young man ought to be’ (yeah, there might be a little Bingley in him-Jane Austen fans unite!).
I don’t want to spoil any of the twists and turns within this novel, because I enjoyed the guessing game so much myself. A few of them I was able to figure out early on, a couple pleasantly surprised me. It had definite ties to The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, but Williams made it her own, and original. This novel was fun, entertaining, and though-provoking — the perfect afternoon diversion out of reality. I loved the time I spent with her characters, and I’m definitely looking forward to discovering more of her books.
And then, head over to Desiree William’s Website to check out all the other great stories she has going on!
As of December 1st, FuelingtheFire is back on schedule for weekly Indie Book Tour Reviews. Check back next Sunday for a new review, and follow me over on Goodreads if you want to know who is ‘On-Deck’.
Please comment with your thoughts on this book if you have read it, or tell me what your favorite ‘imaginary’ world is.
Until next time, happy reading!