Author: Aimee Agresti
Release Date: March 6, 2012 (hardcover)
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Source: Copy provided by publisher
Overall: 4.5 Stars
Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.
When I first held a copy of Illuminate in my hands, the thought of reading the book suddenly became rather daunting. Over 500 pages long and a font that's rather on the small side, I knew I was going to be in for quite an adventure alongside Haven. Nevertheless, after a bit of slow start, the pacing picked up and I found myself captivated by Aimee Agresti's Illuminate.
I loved the not-so-typical approach to the paranormal that has Aimee Agresti has taken in her debut novel. The romance could have easily overshadowed the storyline, but instead, the plot stays very faithful to Haven trying to discover the dark secrets her new boss, Aurelia, is hiding at the swanky Lexington Hotel. Because when Haven and her two classmates, Lance and Dante, are selected for a prestigious internship at a hotel that has quickly risen to become the belle of Chicago's business world, she can't shake the feeling that something isn't right.
What I really liked about Haven's character is that she's not afraid to trust her instincts. When she first sees Lucian, like any girl, she's drawn to his handsome features... but she still keeps her wits about her when she attracts his attention. Even when she begins to suspect things are not all what they appear to be at the hotel, she keeps her opinions to herself and doesn't raise any suspicion. She continues to do her photography job well and tries to keep a low profile, all the while trying to find out what Aurelia is really up to. The steady friendship she forms with Lance is also a very sweet one, with a natural chemistry that left me slowly falling for him more and more as the story carried on...
The novel may draw inspiration from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, but Aimee Agresti has given her own spin to the tale in a completely original way. I'm already eagerly anticipating the next novel in the Gilded Wings series and learning more about Haven's abilities as she continues to save souls from evil. Illuminate is a perfect read for those who enjoy well-drawn out romance, glamour, and the supernatural!
Thanks so much to Thomas Allen & Son for providing this review copy! I've also included the book trailer for the novel below. Enjoy!