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Caraval meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this deliciously dark young adult fantasy about a girl who makes a deal with a magical secret society to enter a potentially deadly competition for the chance to avenge her mother’s death.
Ever since a vampire murdered her mother, Ava has been determined to get revenge. This all-encompassing drive has given her the fuel she needed to survive foster home after foster home.
But it’s been ten years since anyone’s seen a vampire, and Ava has lost hope that she’ll ever find one…until she stumbles across a hidden magic show where she witnesses impossible illusions. The magicians may not be the bloodsuckers she’s hunting, but Ava is convinced something supernatural is at play, so she sneaks backstage and catches them in acts they can’t explain.
But they’ve been waiting for her.
The magicians reveal they’re part of an ancient secret society with true magic, and Ava has the same power in her blood that they do. If she joins them, they promise to teach her the skills she needs to hunt vampires and avenge her mother. But there’s a catch: if she wants to keep the power they offer, she needs to prove she’s worthy of it. And to do so, she must put on the performance of her life in a sinister and dangerous competition where illusion and reality blur, and the stakes are deadly.
About the Author
Margie Fuston grew up in the woods of California where she made up fantasy worlds that always involved unicorns. In college, she earned undergraduate degrees in business and literature and a master’s in creative writing. Now she’s back in the woods and spends all her time wrangling a herd of cats and helping her nephews hunt ghosts, pond monsters, and mermaids.
A girl is determined to join a troupe of vampire-hunting magicians and avenge her mother’s death. Ava Perry, 18, and Parker, her younger brother, have been in the foster system since their magician parents were killed. Their dad died so long ago that Ava barely remembers him. Ava never shared with Parker that a vampire was responsible for their mother’s death a decade earlier or that she has been training for years to kill one herself. Her mom always said magic wasn’t actually real, but when Ava learns this was a lie to protect her, she wants to know everything. A troupe of magicians reveal that they use their magic to hunt vampires, and they invite Ava to join them. However, to become immortal like them, she has to prove herself in a competition against other apprentices. As the competition gets underway, she realizes there is something more sinister at play, and the truths she held fast to may not be so true after all. This lush, stand-alone paranormal fantasy blends several beloved tropes into a fresh, enchanting tale. There’s a delicious love triangle, gory blood magic, fierce rivalries, and found family. It’s a bit slow to start as the worldbuilding is unveiled, but then the action accelerates and the romance heats up. The twisty reveals will keep readers captivated. Main characters are White; there is some racial diversity and a queer couple in Ava’s troupe. Sure to dazzle those in the mood for something sensuous and sinister. (Paranormal. 14-18) — Kirkus Reviews
The perfect sinisterly magical escape. Cruel Illusions has everything I love in a paranormal: vampires, macabre magic, and a romance to die for, full of longing, desperation, and betrayal. — Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval trilogy and ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART