Illusionary – Zoraida Cordova

Title: Illusionary
Series: Hollow Crown #2
: Zoraida Cordova
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: May 11th, 2021 (Little, Brown BYR)

Synopsis: Reeling from betrayal at the hands of the Whispers, Renata Convida is a girl on the run. With few options and fewer allies, she’s reluctantly joined forces with none other than Prince Castian, her most infuriating and intriguing enemy. They’re united by lofty goals: find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation. Together, Ren and Castian have a chance to save everything, if only they can set aside their complex and intense feelings for each other.

With the king’s forces on their heels at every turn, their quest across Puerto Leones and beyond leaves little room for mistakes. But the greatest danger is within Ren. The Gray, her fortress of stolen memories, has begun to crumble, threatening her grip on reality. She’ll have to control her magics–and her mind–to unlock her power and protect the Moria people once and for all.

For years, she was wielded as weapon. Now it’s her time to fight back.


Facing betrayal from the Whispers on one hand and the king’s soldiers on another, Renata Convida finds an unlikely ally in her erstwhile enemy, Prince Castian as they share a common goal. Finding the Knife of Memory may be the only way to bring down King Fernando and restore peace to Puerto Leones. Renata’s control over her magic is slipping however, and the Gray, the fortress in her mind where she keeps stolen memories is falling apart, the memories invading her own and threatening her sanity. The journey to find the Knife is a long one that will take them across the country and over the sea beyond, and with danger on all sides, Ren and Castian will have to put their complicated feelings aside and learn to trust each other in order to succeed.

If Incendiary felt like a fast read, Illusionary is an absolute roller coaster. There was no time to draw breath with this one and it was non-stop action throughout. I was honestly quite impressed with just how much happened in this book and how well structured the narrative felt. With all the additional threads the plot picked up, I wasn’t sure it could come to a satisfactory conclusion in a single, relatively short book at that. But not only did it do so, it was done in a manner that felt very gradual and logical. I was really happy to see a map included with this sequel. Cas and Ren travel a long distance through many cities and landmarks in this one, so the map was helpful to keep track of where they were going. There is also considerable world building and expansion of the history and lore of the land which I wasn’t expecting, and it fit in perfectly with the story. The writing style, just like the first book, was engaging and made this a fast and fun read.

While the plot was a major focus in this book, it was equally good in character development, particularly for Renata, who is struggling with all the traumas she has been through, which in turn is directly affecting her control over her magic. Where she felt like a bit of an unreliable narrator in book one, with many of her memories coming back, she is a much more solid character this time around, which made her easier to connect to and understand. Leo returned in this book, a pleasant surprise since I didn’t think he would be playing a major role and it was lovely to see the trio of Ren, Leo and Cas bond over their long journey. Enemies to lovers is a common trope, but this has to be the first book where I’ve seen friends to enemies to lovers, and the relationship between Cas and Ren was really sweet and it was nice to see it develop. As for Cas and Dez, neither of them have a POV in this book which I was really hoping for, but both were strong characters, even if Dez didn’t have too much page time. It’s kept secret for a larger portion of the book what exactly the Whispers are up to and it was certainly an interesting twist when revealed.

I found the ending, once all the dust had settled to be a little predictable and remarkably convenient. The epilogue felt like it wrapped up things too well since I like a little of the story to be left open to the imagination. Overall, however, Illusionary was a solid finale to this duology and a thrilling read that was so much better than expected. Highly recommended!

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:

17 thoughts on “Illusionary – Zoraida Cordova

  1. Love and Literature June 4, 2021 / 6:11 am

    It’s been a while since I last read a fantasy book, and this one sounds great! Fab review, I’ll have to add it to my TBR x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lindsey June 4, 2021 / 11:35 am

    I haven’t picked this series up yet but it sounds like so much fun! Fantastic review – I really want to check this one out now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 5, 2021 / 9:03 pm

      Thanks! I’d definitely recommend this series. Despite the magic trope being somewhat overdone in YA fantasy, this manages to make it really unique with an interesting world and lore.


  3. Stephanie June 4, 2021 / 1:21 pm

    I am truly desperate to read these books soon. They just sound so cool! And I’m a major sucker for fast-paced novels. Gimme all the action and craziness at once, please and thanks haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 5, 2021 / 8:58 pm

      Hope you get to read them soon! Even though there are so many fantasy novels out there, the world and magic of this one stands out.


  4. Jaya Avendel June 4, 2021 / 5:00 pm

    I can respect solid finales and Illusionary sounds like a satisfying read! I love people with complex and intense relationships and even lofty goals; I can picture the dynamic between Ren and Castian already but still would enjoy reading about it.
    Thanks for sharing another lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 5, 2021 / 8:56 pm

      Thanks for reading! For such a plot heavy book, this did a fantastic job with the character development and it was definitely a lot of fun to read!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) June 5, 2021 / 8:54 pm

      It’s such a rarely seen trope and this duology used it really well, so I would recommend it just based on that alone! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Amanda @ Bookish Brews June 5, 2021 / 10:20 am

    Oooh, I’ve never heard of this one. I love hearing a book that has a solid plot AND solid character development though. Great review 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 24hr.YABookBlog June 7, 2021 / 3:52 pm

    I remember really enjoying the characters, but wanting just a bit more from them. Glad to know there’s more development in the sequel, great review! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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