by rewashington

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

Years ago magic entered our modern world and changed everything. Twenty years later, the world has Access Facilities to help budding magic users and the MDE to help manage, police, and control magic. Raven Delias is a normal teenage girl who is getting her Core magic awakened like everyone her age. She just wants to get into a good school and maybe find love in the process.

But normal died years ago and everything changes for Raven when chaos erupts throughout the facility. A society already on edge doesn't want or need something like her. Raven must figure out if she is human or monster. But Raven isn't the only danger. Something is growing stronger and wants to see the world fall.

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As the title says, so far I am just gobsmacked. To say that this fiction (so far) is utterly amazing would be an understatement. But, despite all of this, it does still have its flaws. I'll try to take an unbiased perspective, but with how much I'm enjoying this, and it being part of a review swap, it may be a struggle. For the sake of me being lazy, I'll refer to the author as R.E.W 

When I first read the synopsis, I immediately told R.E.W how good it was, and the fact that it hooked me immediately. It has everything you could need: interesting premise; worldbuilding in a way that isn't too in your face, but sets everything up; name of the MC and the setup for the plot. All in two paragraphs. It's impressive to say the least. 

So, I went into the story with high expectations. At the moment of writing this (4. Black Smoke - 2) my expectations have definitely been satiated. It isn't without its mistakes, and they don't really detract from the immersion or story either. Overall, it's pretty solid. Anyway, let me go into the intricacies. 


This one is sort of hard to explain, but I'll go for it regardless. From the first few chapters, I already have a pretty good idea of the world's backstory and the people in it. Some are already fleshed out quite well, others need a little bit more work (that they'll get as time goes on, I presume). The synopsis tells you what will be there, and the fic really has done its synopsis justice so far. 

The first few chapters follow the perspective of Raven Delias, the main character of the story. Then, R.E.W gets a bit more inventive after certain plot activities and switches to different perspectives. These feel realistic, they're well-timed and provide a much deeper understanding to scenes that would've fallen short had they not been expanded on. 

It's smooth, massively smooth and it gives a lot of details that build into other things. There's foreshadowing, minor hints that then drop into place like a puzzle and makes things feel good. Clearly, R.E.W has got their story planned out in detail. Each character plays a part in the story, with their own special abilities actually being used in a fulfilling way that also expands into world-building. 

There's in-depth stuff that shows that R.E.W knows what they're doing. There was one issue I had with the story at the beginning, and that was the use of 'Illusion magic'. It wasn't really illusion magic at all, and it sort of made me wonder why it was named that. Luckily, this was rectified in Awakening - 2.



The lowest rated part of my review, except it can be more up to my own reading. If there was one thing that stood out to me throughout the current chapters, it was the short sentences. They're everywhere, one after another and makes the pace feel all wobbly. I'm not necessarily saying that's an issue, but personally I prefer to see more variety in sentence-structure as it usually makes the pace feel more refined. 

Additionally, there's a lot of repetitive sentence-starters. This is probably because of the amount of sentences in a single paragraph that it gets hard to spice them up; but to me, they stick out like a sore thumb. Might not be the case for everyone, but it is for me. 

Then, there is the thing with cliffhangers. There's just so many of them. If I didn't have 12 chapters already there for me to read, I probably would've been annoyed (in a good way). It leaves me wanting more, but the wait would only become more annoying. I can't really say anything else, the cliffhangers work for their sake and they make me want to come back to find out the resolution.

However, all of the tenses were good, everything else would usually flow quite well and most of the time, the pacing worked well with the atmosphere of the scene. R.E.W is capable of using different structures and techniques in order to build an atmospheric feeling to tense scenes, or even normal scenes. 



There isn't a lot to say about this. There are a few mistakes here and now, but unless you were specifically looking for any of these (mainly like I was), I doubt you'd notice them. Even though I did look for them, they didn't ruin my immersion either, it was just a bit weird. One issue I did notice was the line: 

'"You could help us, you now?" Raven said pointedly.' Annoyingly, I didn't keep track of the chapter, but given the context, that was supposed to be 'know', I'm presuming. 

A few more mistakes littered here and there, but all things that could be ignored and fixed later in a refined edit or something like that. No big issues! 



This was good, and also sort of linked into everything else. Raven feels like a human, she has normal fears and worries, and is quite bright as well. She makes human mistakes (actual flaws which make her three-dimensional) and is given an actual personality. There are things to like about her, things to dislike, and all of it builds together to create a real person, rather than a mindless hero. 

The same goes for side characters, like Penny and Micah. You can grasp their personality through the small conversations and the thoughts that they have. Definitely, they're flawed in places as well which make them seem more realistic. While I'm not sure if we've seen the antagonist of the story yet, I'm looking forward to seeing how R.E.W will portray them. 

Without any doubt, I'm sure that they will manage it superbly. 


Closing Paragraph:

Illusion/Core is a good read, even though there are a lot of cliffhangers. I recommend that you pick it up at some point, even if it's now, or when there are a few more chapters out; just put it on your read later list. 

It's entertaining, it has good world-building and characterisation, as well as the premise for a very interesting plot. Not to mention that the action scenes are quite cool, as are the abilities. 

I very much enjoyed it, and if you like magic, you probably will too.


Tons of potential, and room for growth!

I'll start this off by saying I think the world and the magic system being built have a ton of potential, and the piece is fun to read.  That's something really difficult to put one's finger on or to fix if it's missing, so the fact that it's there makes up for a lot of other complaints.


Illusion/Core sets up a fairly standard premise of a student entering a magical school, with a complex and developed magic system to go along with it.  There are some grammatical fixes to be had here, but compared to the majority of stuff I've seen on RR, I'd say it's in the top 25%.

The things that worked for me -

  • I think the dialogue in this piece is really strong.  For me, that plays a huge role in how characters interact and develop, so that's a massive mark in the + category.  Some of the dialogue needed some added commas, but by and large it felt very natural.
  • The magic system is of course an easy positive for this story.  There's clearly been a lot of thought put into it, and it adds a lot of depth to the narrative.
  • The story progresses smoothly and without filler or fluff, and it's actually interesting.  The value of that can't be overstated :)  It's difficult to quantify something being fun, but this story definitely is.  That by itself was enough to keep me going.

The things that didn't work for me -

  • Particularly at the start, a number of things felt very forced and tell-y.  There were a lot of paragraphs devoted to physical descriptions of characters.  There was a lot of exposition that felt like it was there exclusively for the reader.  In general, it added up to make the first chapters more difficult to get through than they needed to be.
  • I'll be honest.  I didn't love the whole "Leading lady trips and falls into arms of Hunky McHunk, and that style of romantic progression.  That's probably just a taste thing, but the encounter felt a bit awkward/unrealistic, and I think in general a lot of the romantic scenes felt a bit rushed or forced.  It's not a race!
  • My biggest complaint about Illusion/Core is that the world felt ready-set for illusion magic to be this massive, big thing, and yet it's something no one uses?  And despite no one really using it, it keeps coming up again and again?  It felt like every scene and scenario was perfectly arranged for the MC's benefit, to be honest.  That damaged the world's credibility in my mind, since it began to feel contrived versus a natural world the MC was navigating through.

Like I said, I think in general this story is well-constructed and well thought out.  It's a familiar world with a very different take on magic, and I really liked the plot threads that were being built up.

I think there are places it can be smoothed over, but I'd absolutely recommend giving it a read and a try!


Review written as of Black Smoke 1 (ch11).

I like this story- I think it has real potential, though it's probably too early to tell how it will go. The split between the two different types of magic is interesting, and who isn't a sucker for talented highschoolers having magic adventures? The author is also pretty good at writing action scenes, which makes this an engaging read.

I have a few minor criticisms, but they don't kill enjoyment of the story- they're just areas in which the author can improve. The first and largest issue is in clumsy infodumps; they're frequent in the first few chapters and they take the reader out of the story. The author tries to integrate them naturally (ie with a news story, with a character giving instruction), but it doesn't quite work. The author also chooses some odd times to describe things in detail. Pacing/structure is also a little off. It would probably make the story flow better to combine the illusion test and awakening into one event, rather than two back to back. It would give the illusion test more impact, imo.

Didn't notice any jarring grammar mistakes.

Overall, a very promising start! I look forward to seeing how the characters grow as the story develops.


Surprised me with how much I was drawn in


I'm a fan of urban fantasy, and I especially enjoy when modern settings are made completely fantastical without necessarily connecting to our reality. This story does a really good job of that. I got quickly invested in the characters and story, too, and only have minor criticisms.


The style is descriptive without getting down into the details with too much grit. I felt that it was very well suited to the action sequences and able to shift smoothly into the more slow-paced scenes. It was also very capable of getting across the differences between characters when the perspectives swapped.

My main criticism of the style was that I didn't quite understand what happened when it shifted to Micah's perspective. The first sentence sort of explains it when I read it again, but at the time I didn't realize immediately that there had been a time shift. My recommendation to fix this would be to either slightly alter and re-order the episodes so that this happens before Raven wakes up in her perspective, or to simply indicate with a "5 Minutes Earlier" or something like that. Whatever you choose do to, just make sure it's consistent.


The grammar here is generally pretty good. Everything flows smoothly, so even when I noticed errors, I wasn't particularly bothere by them.

That said, there are errors in comma placement, word usage, and sentence structure. Most are very easily fixed, though often hard to catch for the writer on a quick editing pass because you know what it's supposed to say.

Story Score

This section and the character sections are where this story really shined. There were no info dumps (except maybe the slightly awkward description of core colors at the beginning of the Awakening section by the proctor), but I was able to begin to feel how large the world is just by some of the things that are implied. For example: technology that is referred to, city names, events in the past, etc. Moreover, what happens within the story is believable and enticing. I was enthralled after the first episode or two. 

While there is no clear over-arching plot as of yet, there is a LOT of room for that to develop in an extremely satisfying way, and I look forward to seeing it.


The characters were the other section where this story shined. Every single one felt unique from the others, had a genuine personality, and seemed like they had a history. They have fears, hopes, and goals just within these first few chapters. The perspective swaps really hammered this home by using a different voice that really matched up with the character that was acting as the pseudo-narrator at the time. I wish my characters were so colorful.


This is a very strong start to a story in a genre I love with fantastic characters. I think that, with a little bit of editing, it could be even stronger. With that said, I highly recommend it.

J Pal

Won me over with the magic system

As a fan of creating my own worlds and magic systems, I'm excited to find others with unique systems of their own. Washington's magic ticked all my boxes for originality, limits and imagination. It was already a five in my books, which the few shortcomings didn't get in the way of.

-I have nothing bad to say about the grammar, I barely noticed any issues. The author's prose flows smoothly transitioning from one scene to another without the overuse of pronouns and words often breaks the immersion for me on RR. I wasn't looking for errors, and none jumped out at me.

-Though I'm not a hater of multiple PoVs the sudden switch to side characters' PoV is a bit jarring otherwise I had no issues with style. The writing is descriptive enough without getting too boring.

-Washington's story is where it all shines. There isn't a lot up yet but I binged it all in one sitting. It is clear she has created a detailed world around her plot instead of thinking sci-fi-magic world and just thrown her characters in there. I only rated her 4 in the category because I failed to see much plot development but that could be because she is still taking things slow.

-Though the characters felt a little anime-ish they're well thought out. Each PoV has its own unique voice. The characters aren't all perfect specimens but have their own flaws and insecurities. There are no Mary Sues or Gary Stus.

Read this. It is good.



A young girl on the cusp of womanhood discovers she possesses a deep wellspring of destructive power unmatched by her peers, suffering abuse at the behest of those who fear her potential.


Washington delivers a compelling style of storytelling in her work, weaving worldbuilding and narrative with confidence. The action sequences are balanced in both descriptive content and pacing, neither dragging out too long or delving into pointless minutiae that halts the flow of events. The information she presents to the reader occasionally veers into infodumps rather than organically letting the world build itself around the main character, but these generally don't detract too strongly from the style of the story.

The writer does introduce third party perspectives to reveal plot points unknown to the main character, which I feel is to the story's detriment. I personally believe these may well have served better remaining unrevealed until they could be given proper narrative weight through their delivery. As an example, the opening sequence of events leading to the main character's institutionalization is presented from three separate narrative perspectives. The unfolding of these events could well have formed a far more impactful story arc if delivered through the main character's perspective as given in evidence during the subsequent trials, giving opportunity for character development and internal conflict.


This work holds up nicely in grammatical structure, avoiding walls of text in favor of approachable prose. There's no glaring failures in the bite-sized chapters which would lead me to drop the story wholesale, though the occasional slip that comes from any self-published work does occasionally pop up.


The allegory of Illusion/Core, a path which so many have trod before, is of a coming of age story. A young girl dealing with the inherent confusion of love, teen life, her changing body, societal pressures, bullying, independance, and the many upheavals of teen life, all presented through the lens of a fantasy world newly awoken to magic. The metaphors used are unsubtle, but serve to deliver conflicts for the main character to overcome through personal growth and discovery.

Unfortunately, the story's scope falls flat in delivering a unique and compelling narrative, at least this early in the work. The setting is a wonderful playground for fertile ideas of utopian post-scarcity society, or an Orwellian dystopia of authoritarian rulership, but these fail to translate into the story. Instead, we gain brief glimpses of the rough edges of society, but only through the sanitized filter of a fairly generic middle-class modern western lifestyle. Little effort is made in fleshing out the scenes with flavourful settings, instead defaulting to generic, familiar locations that fail to challenge the reader's imagination. The impression of a modern 'same, but with magic' doesn't capitalize on this setting. What could be a wonderful opportunity for commentary on many of the transformations society as a whole would undergo, especially a mere twenty years after the radical changes magic would cause to the status quo, instead becomes nothing more than magic wristbands.


If the story fails to realize its potential, the main character is even more guilty of this sin. Awkward, timid, passive Raven is in dire need of someone to take her by the shoulders and give her a good shaking. The main character could, in many sections, be replaced by a baked potato without significant change to the outcome of the plot. Her world is pulled out from under her, and in response she simply drifts along aimlessly, making no active effort to respond to her circumstances and improve them. This impression is hopefully due to the early stages of the story, but speak ill of Raven's strength of character.

A more interesting main character, if faced with the same circumstances, would begin to actively work on bettering their situation. Strategies such as seeking out friendships among her peers that would aid her future goals instead of limply attaching herself to the closest non-hostile groups. Goals like using her knowledge of the advantages having outside support for herself inside her current institution could offer, then planning to achieve this status, rather than letting fate run roughshod over her future.

An interesting character is more than a bundle of impressive powers in an awkward shell. A strong character suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, then takes arms against their sea of troubles. My sincere hope is that Raven can become this character, but to date there's been little evidence this will occur.

A final footnote goes to the antagonistic characters in the story, insofar as they've been presented. There's little to recommend them as anything other than two-dimensional 'bad guys' present simply to advance the plot by being mean to the main character. Hopefully we'll see something more grow from both the main character and her oppressors, but there are currently few notable moments that cause anyone in the story to stand out.


Read it. It's really good.

Let me start by saying that as of this review there is not much "plot" present on the story. (Chap 9. Ringo), just a fair bit of worldbuilding, worldbuilding and characterization, which is in my opinion enough to judge the story as it has me gripped and always coming back for more.

This is a story about Raven Delias, a 13 years old girl in a distopic future where humanity attained powers (well the author calls it magic, but due to how unique and different each of them are, I like to think about them as powers).

The start was rather jarring for me, specially due to the naming Ms.Author chose for the "Magic", but its explained soon enough in a good way.

The story focuses a lot on characters and explaining the world and it's "magic" at first, there are hints here and there of an overarching plot, but it wasn't exposed yet.

The following arc after the introduction isn't done yet, but one thing I gotta commend the author for is how the subtle hints of this world being darker than it truly is, while keeping a facade of "normalty" is great. And currently you got pretty much every reader rooting so Raven does a reenacment of Stephen King's Carrie and melts the face of every damn adult introduced so far.

So far its a good read, Raven is an interesting character, the world is rich, grammar is good, and I foresee this story becoming one of the best in this site. Keep up the good work =D



Just breathe. Everything is going to be all right. R. E. Washington begins Illusion/Core with these words, introducing us to a modern setting that has had only twenty years to acclimate to the appearance of magic. Raven Delias stares at the Embud affixed to her wrist and fearfully anticipates the potentialor lack thereofwhich will determine the course of her life after her Core Awakening test.

Without spoiling any twists for you, the first twelve chapters compromise a first act with a fairly compelling protagonist that excels at making the reader a part of her tension and excitement. The plot wastes no time and moves fast, suffering only from some slightly unsubtle moments of exposition, and quickly establishes a cast of characters that are easy to distinguish from one another.

The writing is competent, with only an occasional missed comma, and it's very easy to imagine this was from the pages of a young adult book plucked directly from the shelves of a bookstore. Illusion/Core has potential well above average for Royal Road, and possibly most importantly—R.E. isn't going to be dropping the story anytime soon, with a website and domain already dedicated to the endeavor and advance chapters available through Patreon.


On one hand, I am reluctant to leave a critique

On one hand, I am reluctant to leave a critique simply because the story isn't far enough in that I can see where the story is headed... On the other hand, the story so far is quite well done and I am enjoying it immensely.  

This is the story of Raven a girl living in an alternate universe, where, in recent history, the world changed and everyone woke up one year later with no idea what happened in the missing year.  Now, however, everyone is much more multicolored and has access to two magic powers -- illusion and core.  

So far the story has revolved around the awakening of the Core power in Raven.  This has involved examining a lot of Raven's self-doubt and her pride in her illusion skills.  

All in all, it is a good start, and I look forward to reading the new chapters every week.  


Waiting for more chapters

This is the type of story that doesn't keep the same status quo, this means the plot moves forward and it's hard to tell what will happen next. This story could easily bocome even better or fail depending on what direction the story is taken in. Personally I'm optimistic, the story so far has been great, the magic ststem is interesting the characters are memorable and the world draws you in, Illusioncore has a lot of potential and I hope it's used well.