Review: The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West

Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website
A powerful island. A dangerous mystery. An impossible choice.

For centuries, the island of Islayne has given certain residents the ability to revive other people’s memories. These gifted individuals are known as luminators, and sixteen-year-old Ronan Saunders desperately desires to join their illustrious ranks. As he struggles against the prejudice of the old, powerful families who have an iron grip on the trade, Ronan falls under the tutelage of a reclusive luminator, rumored to be insane.

Just when his long-desired future is within reach, Ronan and his three friends discover a deadly secret on the island. As they delve deeper into the mystery, what they find forces them to question their loyalties, doubt long-held beliefs, and wrestle with the dire consequences of revealing the truth. Ronan finds himself torn between everything he loves and the only future he’s ever wanted. The entire fate of the lumination trade hangs in the balance of his decision.

YA fantasy is the one genre of YA that I'm always meaning to read more of but never seem to do; therefore, when I was given the opportunity to read and review Kari Lynn West's The Secret of Islayne, a contemporary fantasy read, I jumped at the chance. As it turns out, The Secrets of Islayne was a slam-dunk of a debut - the YA fantasy book I didn't know I had been so desperately craving.

My absolute, hands down favorite aspect of this book? The premise.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever read a book about luminators before. I found the idea of them to be fascinating. The ability to be able to go into ones mind and brighten memories? It's so incredibly interesting, and better yet, extremely fun to read about. The level of responsibility and even danger that comes with it alone amazes me.

Kari Lynn West did such a fantastic job of developing the world of the luminators. In The Secrets of Islalyne, two different types of luminators are encountered: ones coming from the old, original families and the ones coming from new residents of the Island. A class conflict was created within these two groups - old versus new - and it was always interesting to see the problems as well as the twists and turns that came up because of it. I especially liked that the book gave me a viewpoint from a boy of an "old" luminator family and a boy from a "new" luminator family. Kari Lynn West also did an excellent job of creating the history of the luminators and their special Island. It really managed to flesh out the story, in my opinion.

Besides the premise, I also adored the characters. In The Secrets of Islayne, the viewpoints of Ronan,  Ronan's friends - Cassie, Adele, and Eli - and Cassie's dad Alister and Ronan's boss Ben were included. While this seems like a daunting amount of POVs, it actually worked out quite well, making the story more three-demisional and intricate. Ronan, the primary main character, was my favorite out of the bunch though. In this story, he's the initial underdog. Coming from a "new" family, he's not blessed with the advantages older families have, especially when it comes to finding an apprenticeship. Throughout the book, though, Ronan doesn't let these disadvantages get him down for too long; instead, he always managed to barrel through and try to become the best luminator possible. I admired his determination. I don't think many in his place would have his "eye on the prize" behavior.

The plot of this was incredibly faced paced as well as thrilling. Throughout the book I was on the edge of my seat, dying to know what would happen next. There was so many twists and turns, especially towards the ending, that completely blew me away. I don't want to talk too much about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. However, I will say that the ultimate bad guy in this one? I didn't see him coming at all!

In all, The Secrets of Islayne had it all. An adventure? Check! An exotic setting? Check! A well developed fantasy storyline? Check! A touch of romance? Double Check! I simply cannot wait to see what Kari Lynn West writes next. A small part of me is hoping it may be a sequel to this.

Grade: A-

The Secrets of Islayne (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out! 

Source: eBook provided by author - thanks Kari!


  1. It's always great when you can't guess who the "bad guy" is. I'm always disappointed when it's really obvious the whole time. Glad that you enjoyed this one. Great review!

  2. I haven't read YA for a while. This sounds so unique, though. Glad that you enjoyed it, Lauren. I loved your review. Awesome. :)

  3. This sounds really cool! I adore fantasy and probably read too much of it. :D I'm glad you loved it so much and it did not disappoint! Let me know if you need any fantasy recs. ;)

    Fantastic review, Lauren! Have a great week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!


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