ARC Review – Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

22840398Title: Illusionarium

Author:  Heather Dixon

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen because the first few pages were a bit heavy for me and then things started to spin out of control and I had a vague image of what this was supposed to be about but wow.

This book takes place in an alternate version of London in the 1800’s. There are airships powered by a fuel that gives off a drug called Fantillium. Fantillium creates mass hallucinations but only with an Illusionist leading the illusion. Illusionists are usually scientists or mathematicians who understand complex chemical structures and mathematical formulas. They essentially ‘build’ the illusions.

Jonathan is an apprentice to his father who is a doctor, and they get word that in their capital (basically London) has fallen under a plague that only effects women. The women fall ill and die within six days. There is no cure. So of course the King flys to Fata Morgana, where Jonathan and his family live (and his father works) to beg for a cure. And of course he brings the dying Queen who then spreads the disease to all of the females (including Jonathan’s mother and sister) thus prompting Jonathan to do whatever he can to find the cure… which means working with Lady Florel, the top medical scientist in London, who insists on using Fantillium during their research. Jonathan’s father is disgusted with Fantillium and refuses, but Jonathan meets Lady Florel in secret and after a Fantillium fueled fight, she disappears into another dimension where she claims the cure is located.

Jonathan and his new frienmy Lockwood (a Kings airshipman and Lady Florel’s prison guard) take off into this other dimension after her, and find themselves in Nod’ol. Nod’ol is a parallel London that has split off into another dimension. The people and land have been devastated by the over use of Fantillium which has some very… unpleasant (to say the very very least) side effects. Lady Florel revels that she’s the Queen of this land and that Jonathan is now to take part in their yearly festival where he must Illusion for her and a bunch of the workers who produce the drug. Jonathan, hell bent on getting the cure and getting back in time to save his family, and Lockwood, who has no idea what is going on and wants no part of it, are both angry and scared. Lockwood runs off into the new world and Jonathan is forced to Illusion. He is promised that if he does well that he’ll get the cure and be home in moments.

Only that doesn’t happen…

First off I LOVED the story. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about from the synopsis and when I started it I still wasn’t sure until the Illusioning started. And even then I was like ‘this is so beautiful but what’s the story?!’ and then when it hit it HIT. This flowed so well and was fast paced and I couldn’t put it down! I loved the unique alternate setting and the different worlds and the magic of it all. The writing was gorgeous and lyrical and the characters were perfection. Jonathan didn’t always do the right thing, but he did it for the right reasons. He’s young and his mother and sister were dying! Of course he went against his father’s wishes! And Lockwood hahaha I LOVED him. He was such an ass and it was great. We also saw a sweet side of him when he fell madly in head-over-heals-love-at-first-sight with Jonathan’s alternate-universe sister. I wouldn’t call it Instalove or anything, and if the MC would have done it I probably would have, but the way that Lockwood and Anna were smitten with each other was ADORBS.

I also really enjoyed how unpredictable this book was. There were two times when it looked like we were going to wrap things up nicely and head home and save the world, but then horrific things would happen and nope. No nice wrapping at all!

I hope everyone will check this out, it’s perfect for fans of fantasy, contemporary and even a little dystopian!

 

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