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.
*I was sent an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review – a huge thank you to Little Brown Books and Hachette UK for giving me the chance to read this novel early*
It’s no secret that I loved Incendiary when I read it, so I was beyond excited to read the sequel and conclusion to this duology; Illusionary. I was also extra intrigued since Zoraida Córdova said that it was going to be ‘highkey romantic with much action and soulful glances’ and reader? she meant it!
Illusionary was honestly such a fitting and beautiful conclusion and a perfect send off for Ren, Castian and co. This novel was a departure from the first novel in many ways and it worked so well to establish this part of the story and sets it apart nicely. I swear it’s like Córdova looked into my head and managed to pluck out all the parts of stories I love and included them seamlessly in this novel.
I liked how this novel picked up right where we picked up – with Ren and Castian on the run from King Fernando’s forces and seeking the mythical knife of memory. I think these parts were some of my favourite to read – even if Ren and Cas are not exactly on the best of terms at this point. Ren and Castian have this complex shared history and it was fun to read as they navigate their new situation and the task they find themselves on. The path isn’t exactly smooth to begin with but I liked how their relationship developed and flourished after they come to an understanding. Plus the pining? the soulful glances? the brushing of fingers? the protectiveness? the romance? It was unreal and I loved every second.
I also loved how Leo, Nuria and other characters were given more page time in this novel and it made me like them even more. I also really liked that each character felt like a pivotal member of the ‘party’ and had their roles to play, without it feeling cliched or tired, it was reminiscent of classic stories, it was giving me fellowship of the ring vibes and honestly? I’m always down for that kind of comparison. I would be totally okay with Cordova writing a spin off book or short story through Nuria’s perspective. Just putting that out there into the universe.
I also adored the parts where the characters were at sea, I won’t say too much more but I’ll leave it with a few hints: Pirates, a wise captain, a hidden island. It was epic and I just know I’m going to re-read this book over and over.
The way the story progresses was so enjoyable to me, it definitely took time to reach the pivotal moments and it’s hard to describe without giving too much away but I thought this was actually really unique. Usually in a fantasy you expect a bit of buildup, with the characters embarking on a journey and then there’s consistent action until the end but I really admired how the author kind of flips this structure around a bit. I would say this book is more character focused and about the adventure than the big fights and flashy moments although there are plenty of those too!
Overall, Illusionary was a truly brilliant read, I can’t gush about it any more, well any more than I have already. I hope you guys enjoyed this review and if you check out the hollow crown duology then be sure to let me know your thoughts.
Until next time,