Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova – Book Review!

Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova Book Review

Reeling from betrayal at the hands of the Whispers, Renata Convida is a girl on the run. With few options and fewer allies, she’s reluctantly joined forces with none other than Prince Castian, her most infuriating and intriguing enemy. They’re united by lofty goals: find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation. Together, Ren and Castian have a chance to save everything, if only they can set aside their complex and intense feelings for each other.

With the king’s forces on their heels at every turn, their quest across Puerto Leones and beyond leaves little room for mistakes. But the greatest danger is within Ren. The Gray, her fortress of stolen memories, has begun to crumble, threatening her grip on reality. She’ll have to control her magics–and her mind–to unlock her power and protect the Moria people once and for all.

For years, she was wielded as weapon. Now it’s her time to fight back.

My Review.

Thank you to Kate @ Hodder for the review copy. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I devoured Incendiary when I read it last year and had ridiculously high expectations for Illusionary, some of which it met, and some that it just didn’t. Please note this review will contain spoilers for book one. After learning the truth about Dez being the young Prince thought dead, and her memories returning of her time in the palace with Castian as a child, Renata had a decision to make. Go back to the Whispers who had already betrayed her once, or put her faith in the Prince who has ruthlessly hunted her people. Now on the run with Castian searching for the Knife of Memory hoping they can use it to kill the King, they must learn to trust each other, because there are forces working against them. They will make new enemies and friends as well as running into past ones, but in the end it will come down to how much Ren and Cas are willing to give up because the Knife of Memory requires a sacrifice, one that neither want to pay.

Ren is the perfect POV to read this duology from. She know’s injustice in more than one form, and yet she never lets it stop her from fighting for what is right, even if that means going against people she classed as friends. She is a girl of two worlds, but feels she fits in neither, and that really gets brought to life in this book. On one hand she know’s working with Castian is the best way to get to the Knife of Memory and kill his father, but she’s also not sure she can trust him after all the crimes he has committed against the Moria. She is incredibly resilient, but we get to see her feel the pull of the two worlds more in this book, she may have hated Castian but that changes the more time she spends with him and the more of her memories of their past come back to her, but she also feels beholden to the Whispers, even after they betrayed her, and before long she will have to make the choice of who to put her faith in. Her character development is off the charts, and she has easily become one of my all time favourite characters.

While this book is told entirely from Ren’s pov, we do get introduced to a whole host of side characters that you can’t help but love. A lot of my favourites from book one turn up, and we also get introduced to some new ones, but by far my favourites in this book were Leo, Renata’s only friend when she was in the Palace and Castian, the Prince she was once friends with. Ren and Leo’s relationship was one I loved from book one, he is like a big brother too her and spends most of the book either mercilessly teasing her or trying to protect her. But the relationship we really see grow in Illusionary is the one between Ren and Cas. Any fans of enemies to lovers romance will devour their scenes together, filled with steam and just the right amount of angst. My one issue is it seemed a little fast, Ren was in love with Dez in book one, and though he disappeared early on, she spent the rest of the book searching for and trying to save him, so I wasn’t prepared for her feelings to change so quickly.

If Incendiary was a slow burn then Illusionary strapped a rocket on it’s back and zoomed off, because the pacing of this book was significantly faster than book one. In one way, that is good because a lot of people struggled with the pacing of book one, but for me it just meant that we lost all the character growth we got in book one. We just didn’t get enough time with some of the characters to understand their motivations, as well as Ren’s reactions to them. Whether this could have been fixed with multiple POV’s, or making the series a trilogy I’m not sure. But I just felt that some of Ren’s interactions felt rushed, and her forgiveness of certain characters and their actions just didn’t feel natural.

My favourite parts of this book where when Ren, Cas, Leo and co went on their journey to find the Knife of Memory. Cordova has a real strength to her world building and I loved getting to travel around Puerto Leones, visiting different villages, as well as their time spent at sea. Plus Sea = Pirates, and I found some new favourite charatcers on that part of their journey. But also, Ren found a place where she fit, a place where she could use her powers without others fearing her, and I loved seeing her come to the realisation that there are others out there like her, and that she might just not be alone in the world. Cordova’s world absolutely jumps off the pages, and you easily find yourself swept away with the story. There aren’t quite as many plot twists jumping out at you in this book, but we do get plenty more action scenes than book one that make the story flow a lot faster.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. It was a fun and incredibly fast paced ending to the duology with a great cast of characters that I loved. Cordova has a real strength for world building and for writing character you can’t help but bond with. I just feel certain things let it down slightly and made it a like, not love book for me.

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