Review: Illuminate

Illuminate Cover

ILLUMINATE by Aimee Agresti was released in the U.S. on March 6, 2012 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the print edition is 528 pages.

ILLUMINATE is the first book in author Aimee Agresti’s Gilded Wings series. The second book in the series, INFATUATE, is slated for release on March 5, 2013.



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.


Aimee Agresti’s ILLUMINATE is an enchanting, beautifully written, richly detailed and completely captivating story of good versus evil. Set in a glamorous hotel, with a dark past and an even darker present, staffed by an organization whose sinister plan is virtually impossible for anyone to resist, this story has it all – excitement, mystery, nail-biting suspense and a battle whose outcome is anything but certain.

When Haven Terra and two of her classmates land an internship at the Lexington Hotel, they can’t imagine a better way to spend the semester. Not only will they be leaving their mundane high school existence behind, but they’ll be earning money, living in a luxurious hotel and gaining experience that will ensure a better future for themselves.

Surrounded by beautiful people, guided by knowledgeable and powerful mentors, and working in a hotel that is rich with history, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. And it is. If the dream were a nightmare.

Because the Outfit isn’t just there to give the hotel’s guests a pleasant stay. They are there to take their souls. And they’re looking for Haven, Dante and Lance’s help to do so.

ILLUMINATE’s pace is unhurried. Its descriptions elaborate. Its mystery intriguing. Its plot enticing. Its setting both stunning and chilling. And its characters alluring, charming, likable, detestable, gruesome and terrifying.

With her days spent capturing the glitz and glamour of the hotel, its staff and its patrons on camera and her nights spent uncovering its secrets, Haven must decide whether to give in to temptation and all that the Outfit has on offer, or to resist and in doing so put her life on the line.

Author Aimee Agresti has created a story that sets itself apart for its wonderfully descriptive passages, its thoroughly developed plot and world-building and its intriguing take on the mythology. And at over five hundred pages, the story and writing maintain an elegant flow throughout, picking up their pace as the story’s dramatic conclusion approaches, enabling readers to remain connected to this somewhat longer tale.

Told from her heroine Haven Terra’s point of view, readers will get a peek at the goings-on at the Lexington Hotel as Haven experiences them and keeping them in the dark until Haven discovers the truth. With only a mysterious book to guide her, and no one she is sure she can fully trust, Haven must prepare to either defeat the evil forces amassing or to join them.

Dark, beguiling and opulent, ILLUMINATE is a must for anyone who enjoys a compelling story of good and evil, with a strong and determined heroine, a leisurely pace, a touch of romance and an ending that doesn’t leave off on a cliff but will definitely leave them wanting more.

Reviewer gives this book…


On a personal note…

I fell instantly in love with this story. I knew right from the start that the author’s writing would keep me riveted. While the majority of the story took place in the Lexington Hotel, the world she created felt expansive.

The setting was both beautiful and opulent and dark and sinister. I loved getting to discover the hotel’s secret passageways and its secrets. And I loved following along with Haven Terra as she uncovered the mystery behind the Outfit and the mystery of her own past.

This wasn’t a quick read. The pace wasn’t lightning fast. But I loved the length of this story and the fact that the story was unhurried. That, combined with the detail the author gave about the setting and the characters, allowed me to become immersed in this world fully. It felt very luxurious. And it was a world I didn’t ever want to leave.

I absolutely adored Haven. She was clever, fearless when she needed to be, compassionate, sweet but not too sweet, and innocently charming. She fought when she had to, was cautious when it would have been foolish not to be, trusting but not naively so and sympathetic when others would not have been.

Of course I was also a fan of Lucian Grove. With each and every one of his faults. But if Haven could like him as much as she did, I don’t see why it would be so wrong for me to. Even if his motives were suspect. Even if he was aloof and mysterious… or perhaps those are the very things I liked most about Lucian.

He was the bad boy. He was secretive. He was charming and flirtatious. He kept me guessing. Which is something I really, really like in a character.

I don’t want to talk too much about the other major players as I would end up revealing more than I should. But Aurelia and the rest of the Outfit definitely make this story exciting. And Lance? Well, Lance just makes me smile.

I loved the way the author approached the themes in this story. She definitely made it feel different from the typical good versus evil young adult paranormal tale. And I loved that Haven’s awareness of everything that was going on wasn’t immediate and that as a reader I was able to figure things out before she did.

I am so excited that this is only the first book in a series. Until I reached the story’s end I couldn’t have imagined how it could possibly extend to a sequel. But there are definitely questions left unanswered, powers still to be harnessed, evil to defeat and hopefully the recovery of something lost.

And no. I won’t say what that is.

I thought this book was absolutely gorgeous. I think I savored just about each and every word. And while there may have been a few too many missed copy edits, I wasn’t pulled out of the story. I was there for every moment that Haven explored the tunnels beneath the hotel. I was there when she discovered the Outfit’s secrets. I was there when she learned the truth about who she was. And I was there when she learned the truth about….

I suppose I really shouldn’t reveal that one. Which comes at the very end of the story. Which I’m still trying to process. Because it changes everything.

So yes, I love, love, loved this story. Yes, I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. Yes I’m so glad I waited to read this until I had the second book in my possession. And yes, this story is even more amazing than the cover.

Favorite passage…

Everything was so beautifully descriptive in this book that I could have picked out any number of passages that were favorites of mine. But there were four very distinct passages that really stood out. Three of which were quite revealing.

So I decided to select just a small portion of one that was a bit less spoiler-y. Of course to find out just how amazing this scene actually was, you’ll have to discover it in the book.

The lights went out, complete blinding blackness enveloping us; the music hushed, quick and sharp. The shock of it all left the place encased in such pin-drop silence it made my ears tingle. Suddenly, his lips were on mine—urgent, warm, hitting me so fast, so firm, that I lost my breath. He tasted like peppermint. The camera, in its case, dropped from my hand to the ground and I didn’t care….

The Trailer…

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