Paperback: 150 pages
Publisher: lulu.com (March 8, 2016)
Reading the opening pages of this fantasy/ romance, I had the sense I was reading a modern retelling of an ancient myth, fairy tale, or legend. Perhaps it was my overactive imagination, but some of the story’s early elements sounded familiar.
For example, the book opens when an ordinary marketing executive named Becky, who at least thinks she is an ordinary human, is rescued from an attack in a dark alley by an “alien” named Salco. Unhappily, in her opinion, she is transported to a different realm where she discovers she is really Princess Thya of Tsinia, a city of light-hearted (mostly) tree-top dwellers. She had been hidden away on earth until she is expected to fulfill her prophesized role as a wife to establish an alliance with the powerful city called Senx. Much to her distaste, she is apparently obligated to wed Kovon, the son of the proverbial dark lord, Darthorn. Darthorn is no more fond of the wedding idea than Thya, preferring the conquest option which he is certain he would win.
Learning this marriage is intended to preserve and save the magical realm on the brink of destruction, Thya spends many hours being tutored about a world she doesn’t know. Thya slowly learns about her true identity including the undesirable prophecy and the fact she has supernatural powers she doesn’t know how to use or control. Along the way, she falls in love with one of her teachers who is himself obligated to marry another.
After this set-up, readers experience a series of possible paths for Thya to explore and deal with as we meet a growing set of sometimes duplicitous mentors and advisors for the Princess. I admit, my interest kicked in when Thya began to assert her will and resist prophecy, no matter what her court advisors tell her what she must do. From this point forward, I felt I was reading a completely original story based on, well, whatever Karina Kandas cooked up for her heroine and her changed circumstances in this first volume of a coming duology. Thankfully, the magical ride keeps building up speed until we get to the final third of the book where everything intensifies from the psychic battles to the emotional hits to Thya and her chosen lover, Alkazer.
A major stroke of creativity in this novel is the lofty dialect and diction Kantas has most of her characters using. I’ve read other reviews where some readers were put off or challenged by this I don’t see the problem. Every sentence was perfectly clear to me. How tough is it to recognize “with certainty” means “Yes”? In addition, the tone used by most of these characters seemed perfectly spot on for high officials and palace courtesans, not to mention black-hearted warlords.
This book can fairly be classified as YA as there are moral lessons being taught, mainly about the importance of selflessness and putting community above yourself. So Illusional Reality is the sort of book that should be welcome under your Christmas tree, especially for those reluctant younger readers for whom this adventure should be quite inviting. Why not give them a sexy female Harry Potter with a good figure? It shouldn’t be too long before the sequel, The Quest, will belatedly debut in 2019.