Illusions of Fate

Illusions of Fate - Kiersten White Another triumph of a book, exploring yet another genre! Alternate history fantasy this time; set in what seems to be a version of Victorian England, the MC is a half-British colonist (maybe Polynesian? Some type of islander but if there were cues as to real world equivalent I missed them) who is working her way through school as an alternative to getting married off back home. I appreciated both the way this book explored a nuanced variety of perspective and positions around race, gender, class and power, as well as the trope-bending twisty plot. Feels very fresh, grounded yet surprising. Major twist at the end I did not see coming at all. High stakes, slow burn romance, and a MC who is literally disempowered - only nobility carry the bloodline for magic in this world - yet uses her intelligence, tenacity and willingness to break out of convention to fight on her own terms. At the same time, women fighting within the system are recognized for their contribution, as are privileged men who look past their comfort to champion others and make a difference. Balanced, insightful and inspiring - and just a super fun, fast read.