Illusion/Core

by rewashington

Original ONGOING Action Adventure Fantasy Romance Female Lead Low Fantasy Magic School Life Urban Fantasy
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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DefinitelyAGiraffe
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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. 

Story: 

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.

 

Style:

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. 

 

Grammar:

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! 

 

Character:

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.

l nimbus
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Smacks of promise and quality.

 A well done start to a story. Very well done, in fact. While not too long, Illusion/Core has already achieved more than I expected from it in terms of worldbuilding and characterization, though not in story progression. It's a bit on the unique side, and comes off as well thought out and executed. Pacing is good, as is actual dialogue.

 Oh, it isn't the highest quality read, but I still liked to indulge myself in it. And honestly, what not to like? Oh, I know, I know. Some of you won't like a girl being flirted on by 'prodigies' right in the first few chaps, but, hey it's the author's story. Let her do what she wants.

Story:

 Storywise, there's a fair bit of content already. Worldbuilding and magic system explanations, as well as character interactions. While the story hasn't progressed all that much, the content still feels important, with it fleshing out characters and providing needed explanations for the unique magic system.

 I did want to point something out. You're in danger of falling into an old trap here. I've seen the plotline too many times. One where there's a 'powerful magic' and everyone besides the MC thinks it's weak. Yes, you actually did explain what makes Illusion magic unstable, but be careful when handling the subject.

 Your action scenes are also well written. Better than I thought I'd get actually. As someone who specializes in writing action, I have to offer my congratulations on that.

Style:

 Nothing to criticize. It's easy on the eyes and easy to follow. No bumps or hiccups along the way. It stays largely consistent throughout. Simple, and effective, but not minimalistic. It isn't the best I've seen, far from it, but would I tell you to continue using it? Yes.

Grammar:

 Again, all is good, aside from one hiccup I'll point out below, the grammar in I/C has no flaws, by my reckoning. Words sepelled right, commas in the right places, periods not forgotten, first word of every sentence capitalized. In other words: All good.
Now for that one thing g.

 • Using exclamation (!) marks instead of question (?) marks. If you want to have a question, and have it pose dramatic effect as well, do a question mark first, then an exclamation mark right behind it. You can add on another as well, but don't overdo it.

Characters:

 While small, the cast is largely solid, and on their way towards fleshing out., for now, many of them feel like sketches just past the first stage. Don't take this as an insult. You can easily expand on these characters and flesh them even further. They have strong starts, but how you follow through is what will determine how much people like them.

 Raven is already goodly done, but give attention to the people around her as well. You don't need to add entire paragraphs of thing, tbh, just small, human quirks and faults. Some of them already have those, in case of Micah's father, but expand more. Better characterization is never a bad thing.

 That said, I like how they've progressed so far, and how they react believeably I some situations. Take for instance, Raven's final test. They didn't shrug that off or let it slide, laughing that she was alive anyway. No, they reacted as people would in real life, to someone putting another person's life in very real danger for their own curiousity. Call me picky, but this is the sort of thing many of the stories on IsekaiRoad lack, and I want to see more of it.

Closing:

 There are a few things here and there that niggle me in the story, but none worth bringing up as of right now. I stead, I'll let them play out before bringing them up. In the meantime, you've done a good job on the story so far.

 This is one of the more promising fics on RoyalRoad in recent memory, and if you keep going, stay dedicated, it'll pay off.

Cheers, L.

jpuntuned
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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.

Inorai
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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.

Now.

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!

javert
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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.

Endemus
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Surprised me with how much I was drawn in

Overview

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.

Style

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.

Grammar

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.

Characters

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.

Conclusion

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.

Nifikins
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Spoiler: Spoiler

 Not much to say. I enjoyed it and look forward to more. 

obran
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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.  

FortySixtyFour
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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.

Iori Angel
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I really liked the start of this series. The grammar is good, the action flow and the infodump is kept to a minimum and only used when it's relevant.

Raven, is a special kind of gal and I hope we see her develop more. She's cheerful but show that there's darkness inside her. I want to see where the author is going with her.