Review: “Illusionarium” by 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.

Review: The worlds in this story were beautifully created, and the descriptions were vivid enough that I had a clear picture in my head. This story gets right to the punch and immediately I was intrigued by where the adventure was going to take me.

I should have seen the fast start as a sign of how choppy the events would feel later in the story. As soon as you get used to one world, it sends you right into another where things are similar but different enough that they are distinguishable, like your bedroom with everything moved two inches to the left and painted a different color. There were so many things being thrown at the reader (and the main character, Jonathan) right after another that sometimes it was hard to follow what was going on in the story, but that may just be telling of how short my attention span can be.

Many of the characters are very likable, each in their own unique way, and the only characters that I disliked were meant to horrible people. However, I felt that the romance in the story, specifically between Jonathan and Alice, and Lockwood and Anna/Hannah, was rather forced and could have been entirely left out without ruining the story in any way.

I was very interested in the concept of London schisming into different timelines and how it showed that the choices a person makes can affect generations to come. The idea of shared hallucinations with this chemical fantillium is interesting, and the consequences of using it too often were shocking. I like how the culture of Nod’ol was created around the use of fantillium and these illusions.

Final thought: Overall I give this four stars. The worlds and characters were wonderfully created. I just found the events a bit choppy and awkward in spots. Still, it was nice to read something fast-paced.

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