The dawn of Shelbie’s 31st birthday found her melancholy, adrift in a world where she felt bound to be always a side character, never the star of her own story.
All of that changed when she spontaneously booked a trip to Sweden with an itinerary full of hiking and horseback riding – two things that weren’t exactly in her comfort zone.
She expected to see the Northern Lights, nurse sore muscles, and, heaven forbid, pee in the woods. Those things she had time to prepare for, even if none of her preparations went as she had planned.
What she didn’t expect, though, was for her Fate to be tied to a much larger story, one that had unfolded long ago, and would immerse her in a world of people and things she’d only ever read about in novels.
But was any of it real?
I finished this at 1am in the morning because it was such a fun read and I just couldn’t wait to see how it concluded. Everything about this novel was an absolute delight! I was drawn to this story first because of the protagonist – Shelbie Smith, 31 years old, and about to be thrown into a world she never expected. It was a breath of fresh air to read a more ‘relaxed’ fantasy with a protagonist who isn’t in their late teens/early twenties! Especially one who declares themselves a ‘Hot Mess Express’ (an expression I am going to be using for myself I am sure), and feels like she is drifting through life. The great characters didn’t stop with Shelbie either. I really enjoyed meeting them all as I read.
I loved the premise for this story. Late night, alcohol infused social media scrolling leading to the booking of spontaneous flights to Sweden – a trip filled with activities way outside Shelbie’s comfort zone. I loved how Shelbie decided to embrace the trip, even when things started to get whacky. She is thrown into a world that is not her own, and decides to roll with it, leading to a trip she never expected. The twist that throws Shelbie into this world kept me guessing right until the end. Wondering how it was all possible just as Shelbie was. I loved how she embraced what what was going on even while feeling confused and lost.
As the narrator of the story, Shelbie is hilarious. I love her inner voice, it’s relatable, and really fun to read. I was invested immediately. Especially with all the vibrant characters making this novel so good, Shelbie included. I loved that every character felt fleshed out, even those who weren’t the main focus of the story. I found myself laughing out loud while reading, but found myself really emotional the next moment. Aimee Vance writes beautifully, I really felt I was in the moment with Shelbie as she trundles through the new experiences life throws at her.
Fates Illuminated had me still grinning for ages after I finished reading, and I am still puzzling over the twist even now. If you are looking for a light-hearted, but still exciting fantasy read with wonderful characters and a steamy, slow-burn romance this is the novel for you!
Thank you to the author, Aimee Vance, for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 26th April 2022.