Review: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Posted May 2, 2015 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 2 Comments


Author: Heather Dixon
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Greenwillow
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Steampunk
Format: ebook
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Source: egalley received from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 3 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***



Synopsis from Goodreads:


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. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.


My Review:


I think I’m not a steampunk person. I need to accept that and move on maybe. It’s not that I don’t like steampunk, but it never jumps out at me. I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read, but haven’t loved any of them. And the same rule applies for this one. It was interesting, it was different, but it didn’t grab me and sweep me away.


The main character, Jonathan, begins to illusion and is swept away to a parallel world where he has to fight an evil queen and some creatures called the Riven in order to save his mother and sister from a deadly plague. I think my issue with this book was the world-building. I didn’t really understand how the parallel worlds worked or the fantillium/illusioning. Things were explained and maybe I just couldn’t connect the dots, but I had trouble understanding and believing in it.


The characters were all just kind of okay for me as well. Again, I didn’t dislike them, but nothing really jumped out. Jonathan was a nice kid. He liked to fight, got into plenty of scuffles which at times, seemed over the top and unnecessary. At the beginning of the book he seemed like a calm and collected type of guy, but then he would break out in fights at the slightest insult. His character felt a bit disjointed.


Queen Honoria reminded me of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. She was crazy, loved power and was into some sick twisted things. The other No’dolians were just as strange. Their way of life was just weird with the drug and the Rivening, which I won’t tell you anything about, just that it’s weird.


And then there were the games Queen Honoria wanted to play. She had three illusionists and they played in a tournament called Masked Virtue where they illusioned and tried to illusion-kill each other. I really didn’t see what the purpose of these games was. It was just very Hunger Games-esque and I wanted a little more originality.


Well that doesn’t sound like I liked the book at all does it? Not entirely true. I did enjoy it when I was reading. I was interested in the plague that swept Jonathan’s world and how he was going to get the cure/find the cure. Even though the Queen was super strange, I enjoy a good crazy villain so her character was interesting. And parallel worlds are always fun to me. I enjoyed seeing how the worlds were the same and how they were different. The illusioning was interesting, I just wish I had understood how it worked a bit better. Overall an interesting story that wasn’t entirely for me.


Have you read this one yet? What did you think? Were you confused on the whole concept of illusioning? 

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2 responses to “Review: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

  1. Hmmm…I may have to pass, but I'm such a parallel worlds fan (and I also like steampunk) that my interest if piqued just enough that I'll probably end up reading it. But I usually don't like a book if the characters are just ok, so that's a definite negative. Thanks for the honest review, sorry you didn't love it! ~Pam

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