This book definitely blew me out of the water. I was not expecting what I read based on just the cover. AND IT IS A PRETTY COVER! But there’s really just so much more happening in this book than what the cover or the summary of the book tells you. I was completely and utterly undone.
Empyreal Illusions follows the story of two individuals. Breena Taljain and Galbrecht Atalir. (The amount of times I wanted to pronounce this ALTAIR was uncanny). Breena is a fourteen year old who lives and works in the slums of the city of Purgaire. Galbrecht Atalir is a doctor who works in the same city, and is often reveered as a drunk. After Breena crosses paths with a dangerous criminal called The Patriarch, she is found bloody within an inch of her life. Galbrecht has been searching for his family’s murderer for the last seven years of his life, and when he stumbles upon Breena, who bears a heavy resemblance to one of his daughters, he becomes more determined than ever to save her, and to bring this criminal, who he thinks might be related to his family’s murderer, to justice.
Where is the fantasy in this story you might ask? WELL I’LL TELL YOU!
While Breena is in her comatose like state, Galbrecht gives her a drug to ease her pain and transport her mind to a world of paradise called Araboth. It is in this world she meets a cast magical creatures and evil demons, but also learns about the power of courage, hope, faith, and love.
Back in Purgaire, the good doctor has taken up a Hero’s role in bringing those who do evil to justice, while doing the best he can to keep Breena alive with whatever medication he can get his hands on.
Bonsignore creates these magical immersive worlds, that easily get you lost within them. A spin of Narnia, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Alice Madness returns, he definitely adds his own flavour to the world of fantasy writing and has truly outdone himself in this EPIC YA fantasy novel. I’m not going to lie. What really got me into this story were the magical creatures in the land of Araboth. I had a really big geeky moment when Bonsignore made references to mythical Japanese creatures. Clearly a lot of research had gone into the many magical creatures that inhabit Araboth, not just the Japanese ones but all of them. You really have to have imagination to write and research this many creatures. I just loved combing through the passages and picking out creature references I knew like the oni, the baku, shikome, and the dark lands of Yomi.
What I enjoy about Breena’s character is that she isn’t afraid to voice what she’s thinking. She asks questions until she’s satisfied with an answer that makes sense to her. Unlike many fictional characters that just go along with the story, do as their told, let destiny and fate guide them, Breena isn’t satisfied with just following her destiny. She questions why and has this desire to know WHY. Breena is also very intelligent and possibly smarter than your average fourteen year old. She’s extremely observant to her environment and isn’t afraid to admit her faults.
“Am I dead, Lilim? Are we all? If this place isn’t heaven, what is it? There are a lot of things that just aren’t adding up and I need to know why. Someone assaulted me in a courtyard. His chains…”
The Doctor goes on a life changing journey of his own similarly paralleled to Breena’s. In Purgaire, he faces the demons of his world, criminals, the murderer of his family, and probably himself as he learns to move on from the death of his family. Where Breena has her life to change and self-image to do, Galbrecht is fighting for her, to avenge her, to bring the criminal to justice and by doing so, gains a powerful sense of conviction in himself.
Light has to exist at the end of the tunnel. I don’t care if its for me. Hell; I don’t want it to be. My hands are too bloody to clean. Breena’s aren’t, though. She and my girls were innocent. They won’t rest peacefully until I avenge them. The constables won’t help me.
Do you do this for them, his conscience mocked again, or for yourself? Do you plan to be their champion or just another man surrendering to violence? Vengeance will do nothing but make you another killer with no self-control.
I…I…my mind is set.
One thing I’m definitely looking forward to, probably towards the end, is what that Breena wakes up from her coma, what would they say to each other?
What stories they would tell… I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series Awakening The Fire.
3.5/5 Hearts of Love