Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Illusions of Fate by Keirsten White

“The only fate that matters is the one you choose.”

A fateful trip down an alley brought Finn Ackerly into Jessamin Olea’s life. He rescued her from an unsavory dockworker on her way to work at the hotel. Immediately suspicious of his behavior, she is intrigued none the less. During the time they spend over dinner, each one sizes up the other. Finn correctly guesses that she is a student from the island of Melei. Jessamin mistakenly believes that he is a lord but he is wealthy. She is fascinated by his hair and sees that he cannot be that much older than her.  They part when she refuses his offer to walk her home. at her door, she notices that she seems to be casting two shadows. Jessamin blinks and the second one disappears.

One day while strolling in a park, Jessamin heard Finn's voice calling to her. She looks up to see him sitting on a bench. He comments that she is following him. Jessamin pulls out a letter from her mother and begins to read it in hopes that Finn will leave her alone. He doesn't and they talk about children, hats and the weather. Finn shocks her when he says that he would very much like to call on her but he likes her too much to do that. He leaves saying that her hopes she can have more hatless days and stay away from unwanted suitors. Finn walks away and Jessamin finds that her heart is breaking a little. She sits down on a bench and a raven sits beside her. She comments that she had no food and it caws at her. Suddenly, the bird begins to attack Jessamin. It claws at her hair as she tries to knock it away. The raven flies off but not without a clump of her hair and the ribbon tying it back.

After Jessamin left Melei for Albion to come to school, she didn't realize how much money it would cost her for room and board. Her cousin Jacky Boy works at a hotel and he offered her a job as a servant in exchange for a small room and leftovers. The two are finishing a room service order when a boy with a delivery comes. Jessamin recognizes him as Kelen, a boy she had a crush on a few years earlier. She is glad to see a familiar face and the two hope to see one another soon. With the room service order prepared, Jacky Boy send her to deliver it and then head off for bed. It is after midnight. She knocks on the door and a man's voice says he didn't order as he opens it. He grabs Jessamin and drags her into the room. It is Finn. He backs her against the walk and she wants to know why he is there. Let her go before the staff comes looking for her. Finn knows that she is lying. He begins to question her; things like what did she know about his parents, how she got into boarding school and if she practices the arts. Jessamin is visibly shaken and Finn wonders who sent her to his room. He pulls a black feather from her hair. She wonders how it got there since she had washed her hair since the bird attack. He holds it over a candle and it evaporates. Finn realizes that she is completely innocent. He turns his back and Jessamin is burnt by the door knob trying to get it open. He tells her that if she draws a card from his deck, he will let her go. She does so reluctantly and shows it to him. Finn whispers "Wretched fates. I am sorrier than I can tell you." She looks at her hand and sees two cards knowing that she only took one. He asks her to leave. She does and once in her own room she realizes that his door unlocked on its own.

Several days later while studying in her room, there is a knock on Jesamin's door. Ma'ati, a fellow servant at the hotel and Jacky Boy's girlfriend, enters. A package has been mistakenly delivered to her that belongs to Jessamin. The girls go to Ma'ati's room and a box as tall as Jessamine is there. She opens the envelope to find an invitation to a gala for the following night. There is also a handwritten note from Finn asking her to join him. He can no longer stay away from her and he will explain the events from the other night. She keeps the note private from Ma'ati's but shows her the invitation. Inside the box, Jessamin finds the most beautiful dress she has ever seen. Ma'ati helps her get dressed the next night and sees her off. Jessamin is nervous and excited over the experience. A motor car is there to greet her and takes her to the conservatory. Once inside, she makes her way towards Finn. He acts as if he doesn't know or see her. Not one to be stood up, she makes her way over even though he is talking to three other women. In their conversation, Jessamin learns that Finn is really Lord Ackerly. She walks off determined not to be put down. In a red dress with her exotic looks, Jessamin has a full dance card for the evening. Finally, Eleanor the party planner, rescues her from her admirers and tells her to find a quiet room to rest. Her appearance will make her event the talk of the town for next several weeks. Finn finds her and lets her know that he isn't responsible for any of the arrangements for the night. She walks past him and finds her way outside. On her way home, she is overtaken by a murder of crows. They seem to be everywhere in Albion. Jessamin is knocked to the ground. She first dreams of her mother and then of Finn. She wakes up to find herself in a study with a raven perched on a chair. Jessamin sees a single window, bookcases and no door. She starts to look for a way out when a man asks her if she wants some tea. She spins around and sees an older man and the bird has vanished.

Jessamin soon finds herself a pawn in the middle of a struggle for magic and power. Where does Jessamin find herself after the gala? Who is Finn Ackerby? Why was Finn terrified when Jessamin pulled out the cards?  How did his room door unlock by itself? Who sent Jessamin the dress and why? Why is there an abundance of ravens in Albion and why do they swarm around Jessamin? 

Visit Kiersten White's website.

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