Illusion – Stephanie Elmas

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(I thank Netgalley and Endeavour Media for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)

I grew quite enthralled by this unassuming story, which unfolded slowly and effortlessly. The writing is elegant and simple, for an evocative tale, rather old fashioned in a good kind of way.

The characters are all endearing or atrocious, with interesting villains, and if the story tells about some sinister deeds, the writer never insists with atrocious descriptions and details – the facts speak by themselves.

The magic is very limited in this story, and always veiled by illusions, so you mustn’t hope for a fantasy world. For myself I loved the atmosphere, which strongly reminded me, for all the dissimilitudes of the stories, of « A little princess » by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The main quality of this rather classical story is its smoothness and reading pleasure. Another one is in an original main character, who’s never the narrator, always lurking in the periphery like a benevolent djinni and whose physique is so unusual that it verges on monstrosity. How many writers would have resisted to picture him as a formidable figure of paramount masculinity? Stephanie Elmas did so, picturing a wonderful caring character, resourceful  mysterious and generous, but also quite bizarre…

The narrative is quite colourful too, with hints of exoticity,  as a very unusual pet. And if the male main character suffers from instalove (he’s probably a fantastic juge of character at first sight ^-^), the reader will be happy to understand that the object of his love behaves in a much more credible way in the circumstances she meets. I particularly appreciated how she reacts while suffering from a horrible situation, with courage and resilience, but without any improbable and out of character reckless temerity…

The denouement is satisfying, told in a mysterious and vaporous atmosphere…

A lovely tale, romantic and riveting, which doesn’t elude the realities of dreadful situations, but doesn’t dwell at length on them either, keeping a feel good vibe, letting the reader confident that the end would satisfying, positive and, even, happy.