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Illusionary

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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, R 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.


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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, R 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.

30 review for Illusionary

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zoraida

    Edit 9/2/20 Cover/title reveal moved to Sept 8th! Sorry friends! We want to make sure the preorder links are live. ***** Edit: 8/28/20 I've heard from a little publishing bird that there may be a cover dropping on Sept 4 ;) ***** Hi! If you follow me on here you know I keep track of some updates in these reviews. Right now, I just want to say that I have finished the book. It was a JOURNEY. And I love the characters I've created and Renata's growth and power. So...UPDATES. - HOLLOW CROWN #2 is still Edit 9/2/20 Cover/title reveal moved to Sept 8th! Sorry friends! We want to make sure the preorder links are live. ***** Edit: 8/28/20 I've heard from a little publishing bird that there may be a cover dropping on Sept 4 ;) ***** Hi! If you follow me on here you know I keep track of some updates in these reviews. Right now, I just want to say that I have finished the book. It was a JOURNEY. And I love the characters I've created and Renata's growth and power. So...UPDATES. - HOLLOW CROWN #2 is still (to my knowledge) slated to come out early summer 2021. - it is HIGH KEY romantic. Much action. Much soulful glances. - the cover is coming soon. I have seen it. I adore it. I hope you do too. More soon... ~ Zoraida

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anissa

    The perfect conclusion!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    If Incendiary was a journey of discovery for Renata Convida, then Illusionary is where she truly finds herself. So much remains hidden from her, deep within the Gray. But things have changed. Memories are no longer hers to take. Instead, they are breaking out of their prison in her mind, revealing a secret past that has the power to change the future of Puerto Leones. All she has to do is team up with an enemy, take a journey into the unknown, and overturn the rule of a tyrant… As we know from th If Incendiary was a journey of discovery for Renata Convida, then Illusionary is where she truly finds herself. So much remains hidden from her, deep within the Gray. But things have changed. Memories are no longer hers to take. Instead, they are breaking out of their prison in her mind, revealing a secret past that has the power to change the future of Puerto Leones. All she has to do is team up with an enemy, take a journey into the unknown, and overturn the rule of a tyrant… As we know from the first book, Ren is more than enough for the task. Her bravery in confronting her trauma, her willingness to fight for others, her determination to make things better for the people of Puerto Leones … all of this makes her a character that we root for in every moment. The complexity of her past, her role as both villain and saviour, is never forgotten, but underlies every one of her relationships. This is especially evident in her interactions with Prince Castian, who himself has a similarly dark history. Their backstory, revealed in tantalising snippets, only made their relationship all the more appealing. The romantic aspect of the story (promised but not delivered by the Dez/Ren match in the first book) is perfectly developed here, with delicious tension built between Ren and Cas during their journey. Some of the moments are so freaking charged that I was almost burned. This was the pairing I wanted (who can resist a bad prince?) and it delivered (and then some). The structure was much more effectively utilised in this book; quieter, more personal sections were interspersed with high-action thrills, rather than acting as a long, slow build to an explosive finale. That’s not to say there wasn’t an amazing ending, just that it was one of many fantastic moments. The epilogue perhaps edged a little too far into the soppy, but this is a tale you feel in your heart, and it’s easy to forgive the extra dash of emotion when the story has already given you everything you wanted. ARC via Netgalley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    September 08, 2020: THAT COVER OMG! I MEAN, it's just tooooo perfecttttttt- April 11, 2020: Incendiary was average for me but Castian and Nuria are above average and they need my love so I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel for them and them ONLY. September 08, 2020: THAT COVER OMG! I MEAN, it's just tooooo perfecttttttt- April 11, 2020: Incendiary was average for me but Castian and Nuria are above average and they need my love so I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel for them and them ONLY.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Romance, action, self-discovery, found family, twists and turns....Illusionary has it all in spades and is a really strong conclusion to the duology. Picking up right where Incendiary left off, we follow Renata on the run with a prince, learning about her own past and the past of the kingdom, facing difficult decisions and betrayal, and beginning a passionate romance along the way. Zoraida Cordova has really consistent quality in her writing and this is no exception. It was a fun time and I real Romance, action, self-discovery, found family, twists and turns....Illusionary has it all in spades and is a really strong conclusion to the duology. Picking up right where Incendiary left off, we follow Renata on the run with a prince, learning about her own past and the past of the kingdom, facing difficult decisions and betrayal, and beginning a passionate romance along the way. Zoraida Cordova has really consistent quality in her writing and this is no exception. It was a fun time and I really loved the way the book ended. No spoilers, but it wasn't what I expected and was lovely! We also get more explanation of the world and magic system in this one, which is cool. Renata has memory magic, but learns new things about how her magic actually works and what she is capable of. Also, way to go being sex positive in a way that promotes making safe decisions and also recognizes some people (characters) might also want to delay that part of their lives. This is a series that I would have adored as a teenager and still had a really good time with. Do note that there is some graphic violence and death. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Roanhorse

    This YA Fantasy picks up where the series opener INCENDIARY left off and boosts the adventure and romance in equal parts. Corrupt kings, desperate rebels, lost goddesses, magical weapons and dark injustices fill the pages of this fast-paced conclusion to the duology. Some nice twists and turns right to the end. An enjoyable read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hedieh Danesh Bayan

    I just finished reading Incendiary and it was incredible. I really hope to read more about the relationship between Prince Castian and Renata in the second book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maria Elena | _mkarys

    If I could put my feelings in a jar every time I finish a book, Illusionary’s would be glowing. This book was character development at its finest. Renata grows so much since the events of Incendiary, both emotionally and in regards to her power, and I loved seeing that progress. Not that I didn’t like her in the first book, but it’s always beautiful to see a character become a better version of themselves. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that she’s one of my new favorite YA heroines. (The If I could put my feelings in a jar every time I finish a book, Illusionary’s would be glowing. This book was character development at its finest. Renata grows so much since the events of Incendiary, both emotionally and in regards to her power, and I loved seeing that progress. Not that I didn’t like her in the first book, but it’s always beautiful to see a character become a better version of themselves. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that she’s one of my new favorite YA heroines. (The fact that she has my brother’s name is an added bonus.) I also adored seeing more of Castian, who is a character I was already in love with from Incendiary despite we don’t see much of him. I say this all the time, but Zoraida Córdova is the only author who managed to make me fall in love with a character and a ship by only getting glimpses of him and by throwing clues at his real motives. I always thought that there was more to the Matahermano than what everyone knew and this sequel confirmed it. If the love was strong before, it’s made of adamantium steel now. I do think I preferred the castle’s setting in Incendiary a little bit more than the journey we got in Illusionary, but I loved everything else so much more, which is saying something. One of my favorite aspects of the story was the characters. Renata, Castian and Leo are particularly close to my heart. I’m so happy that the author found a way to have Leo be an integral part of the plot in this book as well because I love him. Lady Nuria, who was one of my favorites from book one, reconfirms her badass queen status even though we see her less. And there’s also Dez. I didn’t much care for in the first book—not that he didn’t seem like a good character, but he didn’t click with me as Castian did—but I reevaluated him here. I’m weak for bromance, so when I saw Dez and Castian interacting…I was lost. The other aspect I loved of this book is, of course, the romance, which was superb. Sweet, epic, and hawt to the point that I wished this was a New Adult/Adult book so we could have more! Thank you to the publisher for sending me an eARC through NetGalley. I feel so incredibly honored and happy to have been able to read one of my most anticipated sequels early, and I’m glad that this book surpassed my every expectation. I can officially confirm that the Hollow Crown duology is one of my favorite of all time. I’m hopeful that the epilogue served not only as a closure to the duology, but also as a hopeful door to a possible spin off series. I wouldn’t mind seeing that at all.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Ready for some Ren and Cas feels.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Areesha

    9/25/20: GEE IM SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO EXCITED FOR THIS SEQUEL AND IM SO READY TO EXPLORE CASTIANS AND RENS RELATIONSHIP AND EVERYTHING THATS COMING UP COULD 2021 COME ANY SOONER PLEASE??? 5/11/21: so i finally got my hands on this book and i am so ready you have no idea 5/16/21: everything was so off with this book. i don't know why, because i was so excited for it after i finished reading incendiary and then more so when i finally got it, and believe me, i tried, but there were t 9/25/20: GEE IM SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO EXCITED FOR THIS SEQUEL AND IM SO READY TO EXPLORE CASTIANS AND RENS RELATIONSHIP AND EVERYTHING THATS COMING UP COULD 2021 COME ANY SOONER PLEASE??? 5/11/21: so i finally got my hands on this book and i am so ready you have no idea 5/16/21: everything was so off with this book. i don't know why, because i was so excited for it after i finished reading incendiary and then more so when i finally got it, and believe me, i tried, but there were things that irked me a lot. for one, i felt like cassian's character was reduced. where was the ruthless dude we'd come to know in the first book? how did he suddenly become so soft? it made me feel like i'd missed so many crucial details that weren't even given. secondly, this was not enemies-to-lovers. cassian and ren had hidden feelings for each other since the first chapter, and i've read enough enemies-to-lovers to know that this trope was badly used here. even the writing style felt different. it was hard to keep up with it. so it was only natural for me to stop reading it, which is so disappointing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Thank you Zoraida Córdova and Little, Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. TW: violence, death, semi-graphic murder scenes Rep: Medieval LGBTQ+ (side characters), racial diversity, Spanish-language usage So I enjoyed Incendiary, but Illusionary solidified this duology as a new comfort and something I will be rereading for years to come. In the first book in the Hollow Crown duology we are introduced to our struggling protagonist Renata. Initially, Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Thank you Zoraida Córdova and Little, Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. TW: violence, death, semi-graphic murder scenes Rep: Medieval LGBTQ+ (side characters), racial diversity, Spanish-language usage So I enjoyed Incendiary, but Illusionary solidified this duology as a new comfort and something I will be rereading for years to come. In the first book in the Hollow Crown duology we are introduced to our struggling protagonist Renata. Initially, I found it difficult to connect with and understand Renata, however my response to her was a mirror to how she felt about herself. Her progression into self-discovery and ultimately, acceptance, is what propelled this duology ahead for me. I found her journey to be both refreshing and unique, as it was a character exploration and arc that was cultivated so diligently and intentionally. Renata’s development as a character coupled with the sweet romance was a soothing balm for my heart. This series is friends-enemies-lovers and this is definitely a trope I have not read a lot of, but consider myself to be in agreement with. As much as I am a lover of smut (not in YA novels of course, I am an adult), sometimes it is the soft, quiet romances that really steal my heart. As a reader I love getting to witness a relationship being nurtured, when you can see characters fighting against what they want and what they believe they need. This duology is littered with great characters and Castian is one of them. You come to understand him, his journey, and the accomplishments and mistakes he made along the way. Leo is still such a light and a joy, despite all the pain and suffering he has gone through. We all need a Leo in our lives. Overall, we obtain greater insight into the Moria people and their history. As a personal request, I now desperately want a prequel novella featuring the King and the three other pertinent people on that ‘voyage’. We also get the answers to the questions we had from the ending of Incendiary. As a personal pet peeve, which I have decided to refer to as “convenient couples” there was a pairing that felt a little too “easy” for me, but it did make sense plot wise, so I shall mildly gripe about it here. Also, no, that did not affect my rating. I just feel like it’s worth mentioning in case there are any like-minded individuals who relate to my sentiment. did what it needed to do, it provided closure, while also leaving a few things open for interpretation, or it at least will let you ponder about the future. It also pushes this idea that we are never too old to adapt, to change the way we think or what we support. It also shows the consequences of our actions and how they can greatly affect the past, present, and the future. I am really curious now that I know how everything pans out how I’ll feel rereading the series. To me that’s a testament of a good story, when you can go back repeatedly and garner new information and insights and make deeper connections. I know that I reread Renata and Castian’s first in-person interaction from Incendiary after I finished this one and I would definitely recommend doing that. Some of the inklings I had made sense and the scene overall feels more meaningful. I love when authors can artfully connect their timelines and character motivations in a manner that is both intentional and helps to build character connections, gives us crumbles of foreshadowing, and overall enhances the reading experience. Whether you simply liked, loved, or were on the fence about Incendiary I wholly recommend giving Illusionary a read! P.S. Update on the character in Incendiary I wanted to kick in the shin, yes I believe they should still be kicked but they were not very present, in this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    Please you must read this duology it's so good!! Renata and Castian they both share the storyline where they were the villains, the spies, the good ones, enemies, friends...just?? The characters story was so complex but everything was just so well done! I loved how in this second part the plot wasn't around the love story of the characters, like I can say that was so smooth and it really talked about everything. Leo and Nuria are the other characters that I absolutely adore like they're literally Please you must read this duology it's so good!! Renata and Castian they both share the storyline where they were the villains, the spies, the good ones, enemies, friends...just?? The characters story was so complex but everything was just so well done! I loved how in this second part the plot wasn't around the love story of the characters, like I can say that was so smooth and it really talked about everything. Leo and Nuria are the other characters that I absolutely adore like they're literally the best friends you'd love to have by your side. This deserves more hype and if you have the chance for an amazing and very well developed fantasy world with a HUGE AND BEAUTIFUL character development and almost all the tropes you're obsessed with, this is definitely the best book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    julia ☆ [owls reads]

    #1 Incendiary: ★★★★★ | 5 stars * 5 stars! * And she would never let go. Me @ Zoraida Córdova: pls write books forever thank u I was a bit nervous starting Illusionary since I loved the first book so so so much and didn't want to be disappointed?? But Córdova once again captured my heart and imagination and I loved every single thing about this installment. The writing style was wonderful! That was just something about it that hooked me right from the beginning again and, with the way Cór #1 Incendiary: ★★★★★ | 5 stars * 5 stars! * And she would never let go. Me @ Zoraida Córdova: pls write books forever thank u I was a bit nervous starting Illusionary since I loved the first book so so so much and didn't want to be disappointed?? But Córdova once again captured my heart and imagination and I loved every single thing about this installment. The writing style was wonderful! That was just something about it that hooked me right from the beginning again and, with the way Córdova developed the story, I had such a feeling of deep satisfaction while reading this that I'm writing this review with a smile on my face. The narrative and the plot itself were so well written and I loved how the pace held steady and the tension in every chapter. Renata learned a great deal more about herself and how powers here and I loved how that came about. There was so much fear and suffering in her life and to read about her finally feeling grounded and sure of her purpose and what she had to do, despite the bumps along the way, was such great story-telling. I also really enjoyed the romance! I wasn't expecting to like it so much, but the way in which Córdova developed that point and how it progressed was soooooo good. It wasn't something I expected back in Incendiary which tbqh only made me appreciate it more. The ending was fantastic! I got nervous during a few pages because I was convinced everything was going to go wrong, but it didn't! Everything was wrapped up in the best of ways and I really loved the little glimpses of the future we got in the epilogue. A+ 10/10 duology, recommended to all who enjoy unique Fantasy novels. * Series: #2 in the Hollow Crown duology. POV: Told from Renata's POV. Content Warnings: (view spoiler)[Torture. (hide spoiler)] Instalove: (view spoiler)[No. (hide spoiler)] Love Triangle: (view spoiler)[Not really. (hide spoiler)] Cliffhanger: No. HEA: (view spoiler)[Yes! (hide spoiler)]

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    After devouring the previous book, I'll admit that I was super excited to dive into Illusionary. Like, really excited. I wanted so many things to happen throughout this that it hurt a smidge to have high expectations before reading it. It was still a pretty good sequel though. Now I'll admit that the beginning was a bit slow for me. I was happy that it picked up right where the first book ended because it didn't confuse me or anything. Which, yes, is a huge plus for me. Renata and Castian are sti After devouring the previous book, I'll admit that I was super excited to dive into Illusionary. Like, really excited. I wanted so many things to happen throughout this that it hurt a smidge to have high expectations before reading it. It was still a pretty good sequel though. Now I'll admit that the beginning was a bit slow for me. I was happy that it picked up right where the first book ended because it didn't confuse me or anything. Which, yes, is a huge plus for me. Renata and Castian are still running and hiding from the King and Whispers. So much betrayal happened in the first book that I honestly wasn't going to be surprised if we got even more in this one. Which, yes, we did get a ton of betrayal and a return of the dickwad. Speaking of him, I was not a fan of him being a huge dick. It annoyed and frustrated me but then again.. he did do a shitty thing in the previous book so I wasn't completely surprised with him being a manipulative asshole either. What I did enjoy was watching Renata and Castian get closer to one another. It's really cute when people pretend to be together and act like they aren't going to catch feelings or anything. Real adorable guys but you will ALWAYS catch feelings. Idiots... who I love. Another thing I liked was Renata coming into her own in a way. She was learning more about her past which utterly confused me. Mostly because I wanted to know how she couldn't fully remember things. So seeing things click into place for her just put a smile on my face. Also seeing her being more in control of her powers was nice as well. In the end, all I'm going to say is always be suspicious. Of every single person or thing. Seriously, it will save you so much time because I never know who I can or can't trust. Ever. I'm so happy that I got to dive into this and I can't wait for the next book that Zoraida writes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kate (Reading Through Infinity)

    Read my full review here: https://readingthroughinfinity.com/20... Sometimes you find a duology where the first book sets up the world-building and plot so skillfully that the second book can expand upon them, develop the characters, and go in new directions that make it even better than the first. That’s what happened with this duology. Incendiary walked so that Illusionary could run. Well, actually that’s a disservice to Incendiary. Incendiary ran so that Illusionary could soar. And soar it does Read my full review here: https://readingthroughinfinity.com/20... Sometimes you find a duology where the first book sets up the world-building and plot so skillfully that the second book can expand upon them, develop the characters, and go in new directions that make it even better than the first. That’s what happened with this duology. Incendiary walked so that Illusionary could run. Well, actually that’s a disservice to Incendiary. Incendiary ran so that Illusionary could soar. And soar it does, from twist to twist, hurtling towards an action-fueled finale that left me warm, satisfied, and in high spirits. In this book, we see Renata struggling to control her magic as it changes into something new. She’s rebuilding from the losses and betrayals of the first book and the moments when we see her grow in confidence and begin trusting Castian and the others around her were really poignant. Ren, Leo, and Castian’s friendship and trust in one another really made this book for me. After everything they went through in book one, seeing them having rare moments of fun and safety in each other’s company made me so happy. Leo’s sass and wit combined with Castian’s dry humour and Renata poking fun at them both made for some of the best dialogue in the novel. Their connection grows as the story progresses, with each of turn of events forging a stronger bond between them. I might have found a new holy trinity. We get a couple of my favourite tropes: enemies-to-lovers and ‘THERE’S ONLY ONE BED’. The latter is an absolute GIFT, starting off as funny as you’d imagine but turning into a really heart-warming scene. It’s the mark of how good a writer Zoraida Córdova is that she not only turned my world upside down with the twists at the end of Incendiary, but also made me root for a ship that I’d previously rejected. Illusionary really expands the world of Puerto Leones. We venture into Louzou, sailing across the Castinian sea, encountering pirates, and learning new aspects of the kingdom’s magic. Starting off in one area of a world and branching out works really well for a two-book structure, as we get used to a segment of the world in the first novel before seeing more of it in the second. It also means readers can enjoy familiar areas while being introduced to new ones, and Córdova balances this really well. Colonialism and displacement are big themes in this book, as we learn how the Moria people had their land taken from them and their history erased. Their continued persecution as a marginalised group feels very reflective of our world, and as we see them begin to instigate change, fighting for a fairer world, we can’t help but want to fight too. We also see more queer representation in the sequel, with a returning gay character from book one and a sapphic romance between two new characters. Overall, Illusionary is a fast-paced, thrilling sequel with a punchy finale that cements the brilliance of this duology. Zoraida Córdova shows her range as a writer, moving from exciting action scenes to beautifully written romantic moments in the space of a chapter. This was one of my most anticipated sequels for 2021 and it didn’t disappoint. Content warnings for violence, murder, migraines and headaches, blood, discussions of patricide.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy Burt

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. You know when a book disappoints you so much you actually feel pretty angry about it? After finishing this book, I’ll admit I’m at that point right now. I really enjoyed Incendiary, it wasn’t anything ground breaking necessarily but it was enjoyable and I got through it pretty quickly. Illusionary, however, the sequel in this duology felt a lot harder work to get through. The biggest thing that irritated me in this book was the romance. In book one Ren is in love with Dez to the point of willingl You know when a book disappoints you so much you actually feel pretty angry about it? After finishing this book, I’ll admit I’m at that point right now. I really enjoyed Incendiary, it wasn’t anything ground breaking necessarily but it was enjoyable and I got through it pretty quickly. Illusionary, however, the sequel in this duology felt a lot harder work to get through. The biggest thing that irritated me in this book was the romance. In book one Ren is in love with Dez to the point of willingly putting her life in danger getting herself caught to avenge him. He tells her he loves her, she regrets never telling him back how much she loved him, they make love etc. Then plot twist, Prince Castian, the monstrous prince who killed Dez, didn’t actually kill Dez, he only pretends to be a monster, he only let Ren mourn her love that he created the illusion of murdering for her to see, he’s actually the good guy! And Dez, the good guy, his character is just switched in a way that makes no sense, he flees, he lets Ren think he is dead and evades her and even turns on her. It makes no sense. But it’s totally fine because as much as Ren loves Dez, her life is all about Dez, she grew up being protected and loved by Dez, it’s because she knew Castian as a child, A CHILD, she realises she has always loved him and stops loving Dez like it’s been switched off, just as her repulsion and hate for Castian switches off. It feels incredibly immature romance. Similarly at the start of this book, Castian and Ren work together to find Dez, Castian asks questions about his brother (because in the most obvious twist of all, Castian and Dez are brothers), he wants to know about this brother he thought he lost, he longs for his brother and Ren loves Dez too much to talk about him, neither stop and either consider Dez or how them getting together would effect any future relationship with Dez. Essentially Castian chooses Ren over his brother (knowing how close they were because she had a pregnancy scare) and doesn’t once question the propriety of that, or Ren flirting and ultimately sleeping with the brother of her love who got messed up after finding out he had a brother and his life was a lie. I’m sorry, maybe Vampire Diaries normalises sleeping with both brothers but it’s weird. But there’s more! Castian was engaged to Nuria, they loved each other to the extent she begged Ren to remove one of her most intimate memories of him to help her, and he just ditches it because he’s such a brooding hero. There is no apology or recognition between the 2 characters when they’re together on the page, in fact despite Nuria risking her safety to assist Castian throughout the story, there isn’t one interaction I can recall where he even acknowledges her. But it’s fine because how do you solve a love triangle like Dez, Ren and Castian? Just lump Dez and Nuria together at the end *eye roll*. I’m sorry but it feels underdeveloped, by the end of the book you’ve got Ren and Castian together, but she’s slept with his brother Dez too. And Nuria with Dez, but she’s also slept with Castian. Just putting the leftover characters together as some happy ending just annoyed me, as did the dialogue where Dez goes from “how will I get over losing you” to ‘oh well, there’s a spare woman here, I’ll love her now’ and pretty instantly forgives his brother and former love for getting it on. This emotional maturity is from the character previously written to panic so much when he found out he had a brother and that he was a Prince that he fled everything?? Oh then we flip again and he just becomes King and takes on that responsibility easily enough. Sounds like he easily could’ve handled the stuff he was written to bail on too, but that would've got in the way of the need for Ren to get with Castian. It just reads inconsistent and written towards getting from A to B. Similarly, multiple members of the Whispers betray Ren and again it’s just glided over and moved past. It’s infuriating. While there is no emotional development when it comes to relationships in the book, I did enjoy the emotional progression of Ren herself in this book. She starts off with such self loathing, being raised to be a weapon, a prop to be disposed of, and ending up loving herself. I wish that had been the love story in this book, self love, for both Ren and Castian, instead of 2 very broken, hurting people propping each other up. I actually preferred the ending when it looked like she boarded the pirate ship alone, doing something FOR HER but nope, Castian has to chase after her. Relationships aside, this isn’t a bad book and at times I really did enjoy it, I just detest love triangles and flip flopping in character personalities, it’s a bit of an overused YA cliche. Also I have read too many books now where the plot is all about the protagonist having to make a sacrifice and it’s discussed for chapters, there’s an end goal which will save the world but the cost is her life, she hides it from him as he talks of their future etc. And she dies, a higher being or whatever speaks to her and is all ‘I know this is literally how it works but for the happy ending, I’m going to change the rules just for you and say it’s not your time yet’ as her love cradles her body and low and behold she returns. I can name several like this but I’ll be spoiling a lot of books if I mention them, i think it’s just been done too much now that you know it’s a bluff! I’m not saying I wanted the characters to suffer but it was just wrapped up too neatly and sweetly. I’m sorry that sounds so bitter, it just didn’t do it for me and I could see such potential which is why I’m annoyed. Nuria was my favourite character and she’s barely used, as is Sayida and Argi, 3 women that would have totally changed how I felt the book had they been given more instead of the romance that instead took over this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    Thank you so much Hachette Book Group Canada for, providing me with a physical copy of Illusionary. Thank you for giving me the chance to read and review this book. Illusionary, in my books, surpassed its predecessor (Incendiary). It is my favourite of the two books in the duology. Córdova does a great job of mesmerizing readers into her fantasy world. After the first chapter, I was immediately hooked and invested in the plot. I am also in love with this author's writing style. Córdova's writing Thank you so much Hachette Book Group Canada for, providing me with a physical copy of Illusionary. Thank you for giving me the chance to read and review this book. Illusionary, in my books, surpassed its predecessor (Incendiary). It is my favourite of the two books in the duology. Córdova does a great job of mesmerizing readers into her fantasy world. After the first chapter, I was immediately hooked and invested in the plot. I am also in love with this author's writing style. Córdova's writing style is both beautiful and feels somewhat poetic. I read through this book quite quickly. The first and last half of this novel was enjoyable. I felt this duology had a nice ending. The book left room for a possible spin-off series. The plot picks up right where it left off after the events of Incendiary. I was happy to see more of Castian in this novel. Leo will forever be my favourite character from this series. I'm a big fan of this duology's story concept and magic system. I like the idea of overthrowing an evil/unjust monarchy. Any storyline that includes enemies to lovers romance has me hooked. I thought the ending to this series was well done. I would have liked to see this series as a trilogy instead of a duology. I would have liked to see some character relationships be more fleshed out (Ex: Castian x Des x Ren). I also would have liked a greater (longer) battle scene at the end. I felt the pacing flowed nicely throughout Illusionary. The events of the book kept me hooked from beginning to end. I enjoyed seeing the characters travel all over Puerto Leones. Córdova brought this world to life with her gorgeous writing style and the inclusion of all the different customs/traditions and foods. The world-building was beautifully fleshed out. Overall, I felt Illusionary was a great wrap to a series that included beautiful world-building, gorgeous writing and a plot that readers can easily get lost into while reading this book. I loved the magic system, the various characters, and the enemies to lovers romance. I wanted a bit more character development and expansion on certain characters' relationships. I also would have liked to see a more drawn-out battle at the end. Besides those personal critiques, I'm super excited to see what Córdova comes out with next in the literary world. Illusionary was a great end to the Hollow Crown Duology.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Kathryn Wright

    This was a lovely conclusion to a great duology about a girl and a Prince on the run to find the Knife of Memory. Renata is the main character, it took me a little while to like her again because I love the Prince, but a few chapters in I really liked her. She was strong and independent and after a few chapters it was easy to connect with her. And Prince Castian, I loved him in the first book and I love him even more in this. The romance was done well for there were wasn’t to much and it fit rea This was a lovely conclusion to a great duology about a girl and a Prince on the run to find the Knife of Memory. Renata is the main character, it took me a little while to like her again because I love the Prince, but a few chapters in I really liked her. She was strong and independent and after a few chapters it was easy to connect with her. And Prince Castian, I loved him in the first book and I love him even more in this. The romance was done well for there were wasn’t to much and it fit really with the search for the Knife of Memory. The character development of the main characters and side characters was really well done. The writing was fantastic, also the world building was done well. There was so much more learned about this world and I loved it. The history and world building was really well done and might be my favorite parts of the book. But I had some problems with pacing in the beginning but it only took a few chapters for it to get better. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read more books by this author.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    This book picks up right after the first, with Renata and Castian on the run from the King and the Whispers. Ren has been betrayed by her people and Castian's father has put a bounty out for him. They're searching for Des, the missing prince, when they stumble on a story about a magic knife that might be able to help Ren with the memories plaguing her. I thought this unfolded a bit slowly and was hoping for more action. More than an adventure story, this was about Renata discovering herself and This book picks up right after the first, with Renata and Castian on the run from the King and the Whispers. Ren has been betrayed by her people and Castian's father has put a bounty out for him. They're searching for Des, the missing prince, when they stumble on a story about a magic knife that might be able to help Ren with the memories plaguing her. I thought this unfolded a bit slowly and was hoping for more action. More than an adventure story, this was about Renata discovering herself and dealing with her past. I did like the slow burn romance between Ren and Cas and the moments where they were vulnerable with each other were sweet. It's difficult to know who you can trust, with the Whispers wanting the crown and King Fernando out to kill all the Moria people. Ren makes a couple allies as she goes and I enjoyed her found family.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Becca (Horners_book_corner)

    Hodder kindly sent me a copy of Illusionary to read and review and I thought it was such a brilliant ending to the Hollow Crown duology! I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't started the series yet, so I will just say that I adore Renata (and Castian), the back-and-forth banter, the painfully slow burn romance and the *magic system*, which is SO unique! If you enjoyed Incendiary you'll definitely enjoy this too 😍 Hodder kindly sent me a copy of Illusionary to read and review and I thought it was such a brilliant ending to the Hollow Crown duology! I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't started the series yet, so I will just say that I adore Renata (and Castian), the back-and-forth banter, the painfully slow burn romance and the *magic system*, which is SO unique! If you enjoyed Incendiary you'll definitely enjoy this too 😍

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kaelyn Grace

    This book made me feel so many emotions. I’m so sad that it’s over, but it’s the best way to end this duology! I’m still so in love with Castian and this book increased my obsession A LOT. Love this book so much plz read it!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allie (alliewithbooks)

    True rating: 4.5 stars [ Review to come ]

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    A brilliantly written, beautifully crafted, satisfying conclusion to a sensational fantasy duology. This book was everything I'd hoped it would be and then some. I couldn't have asked for more (except, perhaps, many more books because I don't want to leave these characters, their world or story.) Illusionary is YA fantasy at its finest. It's reminded me why I keep persevering with this genre, despite often not getting on with it. Zoraida has written a story, world, magic system and cast of charac A brilliantly written, beautifully crafted, satisfying conclusion to a sensational fantasy duology. This book was everything I'd hoped it would be and then some. I couldn't have asked for more (except, perhaps, many more books because I don't want to leave these characters, their world or story.) Illusionary is YA fantasy at its finest. It's reminded me why I keep persevering with this genre, despite often not getting on with it. Zoraida has written a story, world, magic system and cast of characters that sucked me in from the first page of book one. I won't be forgetting this story anytime soon and you can bet I'm not going to stop talking about it either.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Calibrisfont

    This book wouldn’t be released until next year... Until then, I’ll be mentally infatuated with Prince Castian sksk

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hâf

    Illusionary is the epic conclusion to the fast paced Hollow Crown duology, the story continues to unfold with plenty of surprises and action to keep the reader on the edge of their seat! The sequel begins a couple of weeks following the events of Incendiary and I was delighted to re-immerse myself in the rich world of Puerto Leones that the author has created. Illusionary introduces us to a wealth of new characters and builds on the already incredible world building. This novel, similarly to the Illusionary is the epic conclusion to the fast paced Hollow Crown duology, the story continues to unfold with plenty of surprises and action to keep the reader on the edge of their seat! The sequel begins a couple of weeks following the events of Incendiary and I was delighted to re-immerse myself in the rich world of Puerto Leones that the author has created. Illusionary introduces us to a wealth of new characters and builds on the already incredible world building. This novel, similarly to the first book, focuses on Renata and her previous trauma as someone who was used as a weapon by the kingdom. Renata began to question her past and confront her trauma in Incendiary, and in the sequel she continues on her journey of self-discovery. She is definitely one of the most complex fantasy characters I have ever read, she is plagued by her past deeds and how she is viewed as a villain by many people while attempting to be the kingdom’s saviour. Illusionary features many more personal scenes for Renata as well as Castian, scenes of quiet contemplation rather than high stakes action at all times which was refreshing and built up tension perfectly. Renata and Castian both bonded over their shared pasts, as their characters can both be viewed as villains or saviours. Their backstory is revealed very slowly over the length of the novel in short flashbacks and memories, creating a deeper connection between the reader and the main characters. With magical weapons, corrupt kings, desolate rebels and a dash of romance, Illusionary is the perfect conclusion to an incredible duology. Incendiary was one of my favourite fantasy novels of 2020, and Illusionary has definitely stolen the spotlight for 2021. I do believe this brilliantly creative series deserves a lot more hype and a much bigger readership, if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, then I highly recommend doing so!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Bookbookowl)

    Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a copy of Illusionary, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review! I have been SO excited for this book! I loved Incendiary and we were left on such a cliffhanger that it’s felt like a long wait for Illusionary. With the focus firmly on Ren and Cas in this book,  their character development was perfect. From sworn enemies to fighting feelings, they’re both on the run and running towards a new future. One where King Fernando will no Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a copy of Illusionary, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review! I have been SO excited for this book! I loved Incendiary and we were left on such a cliffhanger that it’s felt like a long wait for Illusionary. With the focus firmly on Ren and Cas in this book,  their character development was perfect. From sworn enemies to fighting feelings, they’re both on the run and running towards a new future. One where King Fernando will no longer rule. The only way forward is to find and retrieve the knife of memory, but that’s easier said than done and could come at a cost too great. Even though the developing feelings between Ren and Cas formed the backbone of this book, it somehow didn’t turn it into a romance first, plot second, sequel and I was so glad. There was still enough action, twists and intrigue to make this a brilliant conclusion to the duology.  I loved that we got to venture into new parts of the world in Illusionary. The characters Ren and Cas met along the way were all interesting in their own ways, no matter how small a part they played in the overall story. This is such a creative and thrilling series, I’m surprised it hasn’t received more hype. If you haven’t read Incendiary yet, go and find yourself a copy!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richel (letsreadshallwe)

    Update | May 8, 2021 “I don’t care if we’re in the middle of the sea or on one of the thousand isles of Luzou. Hate me, love me, have me. Wherever you are, that’s my kingdom, (view spoiler)[Nati (hide spoiler)] , and you are my queen." Illusionary picks up from where Incendiary left off, remember that cliffhanger? Ever since I read Incendiary, I have been telling everyone that this duology deserves more hype! If Incendiary was a journey of discovery, then Illusionary was about growth and adventure. Update | May 8, 2021 “I don’t care if we’re in the middle of the sea or on one of the thousand isles of Luzou. Hate me, love me, have me. Wherever you are, that’s my kingdom, (view spoiler)[Nati (hide spoiler)] , and you are my queen." Illusionary picks up from where Incendiary left off, remember that cliffhanger? Ever since I read Incendiary, I have been telling everyone that this duology deserves more hype! If Incendiary was a journey of discovery, then Illusionary was about growth and adventure. Renata's struggles with her identity and her power was very much apparent from the first book and was continued in Illusionary. Although her development came a little late in the book which made me worried in the beginning. When the main character is forced to partner with the villain of the story, you just know that tension will be brewing and dear, there’s some real tension. Illusionary gave us more snippets of Renata’s past which provided answers and confirmation to some questions formulated from reading the first book. I’ve always loved Renata, Castian and Leo but this is where I fell head over heels in love with Castian, I’ve always known there’s something more to him than just being the Matahermano. And as for Leo, we get to see more of him in Illusionary which I consider one of the best gifts Zoraida Cordova could have given us. I also loved the introduction of the new characters. And, if there are characters that I loved, there are also characters that I hated. And when I say hated, I mean really hated. You know those characters who just don’t learn? They made my blood boil. As much as I love reading about the developing feelings between the main characters, I am glad that Illusionary didn’t focus on just the romance and still had the plot as the main focus. Other than revenge, quest and self discovery, one of the indirect subjects of Illusionary was also about dealing with mental health which I appreciate. The epilogue was a little too cheesy for my taste but worked well as a balm for my heart. Illusionary was a thrilling conclusion to the Hollow Crown duology although I must say I loved Incendiary a little more than the sequel because I’m not a fan of love triangles especially between (view spoiler)[brothers (hide spoiler)] . Regardless, I still enjoyed this and is now one of my favorite duologies! Some of my favorite tropes in Illusionary: - Fake marriage - There’s only one bed trope - Friends to enemies to lovers - Slow burn - Chosen one Thank you so much to Hachette Book Group Canada and Netgalley for providing me an E-ARC to review! April 21, 2021 Proper review to follow. I’m too invested in this story!

  28. 4 out of 5

    bookswitha

    I haven’t been this invested in a book series for a very long time. I actually shed tears because it was over. PRINCE CASTIEN I’LL MISS YOU DEARLY😩

  29. 4 out of 5

    Becci

    Really enjoyed this sequel. I was hooked by the end of the first book and desperate to see what happened between Renata and prince. I loved where the story went. And I really liked the ending.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura - Random Utopias

    I CAN BARELLY WAIT TO GET THIS BOOK ON MY HANDS . OMG. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. I NEED (view spoiler)[A REUNION BETWEEN REN AND DEZ AND LOTS OF KISSES (hide spoiler)] . omg Edit: review When I was younger, tears were an easy thing to shed while reading - in general, really. I seem to have lost the ability to properly cry, especially when reading - my depression must have dried or used up all of my tears, surely. But there are books I read in which I just KNOW my body is crying. This is such a b I CAN BARELLY WAIT TO GET THIS BOOK ON MY HANDS . OMG. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. I NEED (view spoiler)[A REUNION BETWEEN REN AND DEZ AND LOTS OF KISSES (hide spoiler)] . omg Edit: review When I was younger, tears were an easy thing to shed while reading - in general, really. I seem to have lost the ability to properly cry, especially when reading - my depression must have dried or used up all of my tears, surely. But there are books I read in which I just KNOW my body is crying. This is such a book. It didn't go at all like I expected it (if you read my spoiler above after reading the book you'll know why) but I am not mad at all. I'm so incredibly happy at this book. At the journey Córdova brought to us. At the strenght of Renata and her bravery and her kindness and her loving nature. This book broke me in so many little pieces that I desperately needed. Now that I have finished it, I can't help but acknowledging the melancholy feeling that ravages my heart since I turned the last page. I want to cry of happiness, of longing, of sadness. I want to forget this story to start it all over again.

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