Thursday 23 March 2023

Book Review | Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston | prettylittlewriter

Ever since a vampire murdered her mother, Ava has been determined to get revenge. This all-encompassing drive has given her the fuel she needed to survive foster home after foster home.

But it’s been ten years since anyone’s seen a vampire, and Ava has lost hope that she’ll ever find one…until she stumbles across a hidden magic show where she witnesses impossible illusions. The magicians may not be the bloodsuckers she’s hunting, but Ava is convinced something supernatural is at play, so she sneaks backstage and catches them in acts they can’t explain.

But they’ve been waiting for her.

The magicians reveal they’re part of an ancient secret society with true magic, and Ava has the same power in her blood that they do. If she joins them, they promise to teach her the skills she needs to hunt vampires and avenge her mother. But there’s a catch: if she wants to keep the power they offer, she needs to prove she’s worthy of it. And to do so, she must put on the performance of her life in a sinister and dangerous competition where illusion and reality blur, and the stakes are deadly.’

I’ve seen quite a few low star ratings for this book, but I cannot fathom why! I absolutely adored this novel, from start to finish I was hooked! It only took me 3 days to read (hours really if you put the time spent reading together) and that was an achievement for me as the novel is a hefty 500 pages long!

This book has everything I would want in a fantasy novel; vampires, magic, romance (a love triangle!) and a badass MC.

Ava is a brilliant main character, a teenage orphan with a vendetta, thanks to the death of her Mother by a vampire’s hand. She meets this travelling group of magicians, whom she soon finds out are not your average magicians, they actually have REAL magic, and they want her to join them.

She goes along with them and is soon thrown into a world full of lies, betrayal, death and despair.

There are quite a few shocking moments, some that are even quite hard to read, as there are some severe deaths and horrific scenes that Ava has to watch/go through. The competition to become an ‘immortal’ magician, is incredibly brutal.

When we first meet Xander, Ava’s love interest from the start, I really liked him and thought he was sweet. I had this feeling however, that he wasn’t going to be exactly who we thought he was, so I wasn’t really surprised when things changed towards the end of the novel.

Roman, however, I LOVED from the beginning. Brooding, mysterious but with a sensitive side, I knew even when Ava thought he could be dangerous, that he was going to be a good guy. From the moment they met, he was the one I wanted Ava to end up with.

I also loved Ava’s friendships that she formed with Willow & Nadine (fellow competitors). It just shows that you can be in competition with someone and still be good friends.

The magic system (the entire world building really) was incredible, although quite simple, it was still very impressive, and to incorporate vampires with ‘immortal magicians’, and have them side by side, was really clever (if this doesn’t make sense, upon reading the book it will!).

There were some twists along the way, and one that I managed to guess early on, but it was still thrilling watching it unfold.

I also loved the little pop culture mentions throughout, Buffy is mentioned a lot!

The ending itself was wrapped up in a nice little bow too, as this is a standalone novel, you aren’t left with any questions, so I was very satisfied with it. Although I’m also kind of gutted it’s a standalone, as I’d definitely read more from these characters!

The ONLY thing that I would say is that I would have liked a little bit more in terms of romantic scenes/spice between Ava and Roman.

I would highly recommend this to anyone that loves vampires and magic related stories, and if you also enjoyed the likes of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval, then I’m sure you will enjoy this!

I will definitely be picking up anything else that Margie has written now!

5/5 stars

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