The Lord of Illusion by Kathryne Kennedy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (425 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum
HE'LL DO ANYTHING TO FREE HIS PEOPLE... Lord Drystan Hawkes dreams of fighting for England's freedom from the endless evils of the Elven Lords. But first he must find the beautiful slave girl who holds the secret to his quest.
SHE HOLDS THE KEY TO HIS LIBERATION... Enslaved for years in a realm of illusion, Camille Ashton has learned to trust no one. But she's truly spellbound when she meets Drystan, and somehow when they are together, she can see what's true.
From Kathryne Kennedy, acclaimed by critics as "absorbing" and "impossible to put down," The Lord of Illusion opens ups to an enchanting world with characters that live and breathe between the pages.
How does one take a battered and abused woman and teach her to love? The answer is: very slowly and with as little magic as possible. Thing is, that’s hard to do when she’s stuck in a magical world as a slave and the master is a psychotic magic wielding elf with fits of paranoia. But Drystan wouldn’t be the hero he is if he didn’t try. And that is only one of the amazing journeys that a reader experiences on this final wild ride in a world where England is riddled with Fey power plays.
That’s been the overall story arc throughout this amazing series by the talented Ms. Kennedy – to free England from the elves’ maniacal rule. It’s been a long struggle with many great warriors dying for the cause and this story is no different. There are some very unexpected fatalities that occur and although they weren’t English, they were noble and honorable just the same – in their own way. But I get ahead of myself.
Even though there is a hero and heroine, Drystan Hawkes is the man who made the most impact on me. Whereas the heroine, Camille, has been in the magical part of England all her life, the hero has not. His experience is so unusual because he’s magically affected, even so far away. There’s a reason for that but I’m not saying how. Because of it and the fact that he’s in the small non-magical part of England, he ended up being a victim of prejudice and fear. It’s isolated him from society and he’s practically lived his life vicariously through books. How then can a man of limited actual experience jump into the middle of an active rebellion and expect to defeat the demented elf, save the girl and free England? Sounds complicated and it is which is why I’m so impressed with Ms. Kennedy’s writing. She kept a tight rein on all the plot threads while thoroughly entertaining me.
Give Camille her due, she’s had a horrific life. She’s truly been abused mentally, physically and socially. In a way, she reminded me of that Shirley Temple movie way back when the rich little girl was pampered and well treated but as soon as it was thought she was a pauper and orphaned, bad, nasty things happened until her daddy was found alive and she was rescued. Camille wasn’t as fortunate because her rescue will come years and years after her secure world was ripped from her. What I admired about her was her determination to rise above slave status. It took sheer guts to get knocked back as many times as she was only to get up and start over again. That kind of strength of character deserves to be rewarded and it is, with Drystan.
Drystan has an in as to what special handling Camille needs and that is where the romance begins. It’s a slow dance of trust building peppered with small gestures of respect and kindness. He shows the heroine admiration and gives her back honor and a sense of self worth. Does she trust it? No. That provides plenty of character driven conflict that kept me turning the pages.
The external conflict is varied. It bounces between secondary characters of ill intent and the main Fey lunatic, Lord Roden. There are magic battles, sword battles and lots of other kinds of action to keep a reader enthralled. There is a good support cast too which really rounded out the book.
Then there are the moments when fledgling love leads to tentative touches and soft caresses. I enjoyed that writing immensely. Again, Ms. Kennedy captured the emotions of her characters and shared it with readers with effective dialogue, descriptions and action, making the scenes come alive. When Camille finally allows herself to express her love to Drystan, it was beautiful, passionate and dare I say, quite inventive. The part with the Arabian Nights was deliciously naughty and I loved every word because it was so sexy and sensual.
The big climactic battle did not disappoint. It was hectic, frenetic and desperate. All the important characters came together from the previous books in the series to help out. There are tears, suspense and ultimately, jubilation. What happens to the elves wasn’t what I expected at all. But, the author proved once again that they just aren’t human. The comment about the scepters gave me pause and I’m filled with speculation. I am also very curious as to how England is going to look, sound and feel post-elf. I hope Ms. Kennedy has some secret plans to visit once again. Something that was said leads me to hope for the possibility.
The Lord of Illusion is sensory nirvana. I totally enjoyed Drystan’s idea of romantic ambiance and found it dreamy and delightful. I loved the descriptions and the author’s ability to capture emotions and translate into words just how much the hero loved the heroine. Some of them were truly poetic. When the action started and the swords started swinging, again, Ms. Kennedy made me feel like I was in the thick of it. The happily ever after was everything I could have hoped for and it ended the series on a solid note of hope, joy and optimism for the future. I’m going to miss this mad, magical world of England and I thank Ms. Kennedy for a wonderful reading experience.