Cruel Illusions Readalong: Day 2!

Stunning photo by @lostinbookworld!

Hi Fairy Friends!

Welcome back to day 2 of our readalong of Cruel Illusions. I hope you’re all loving the book so far!

Today we’re reading from chapter 7 to the end of chapter 13. Let’s go!

Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston, from chapters 7 to 13. Please only read on if you’ve finished this section!


Parker’s birthday party goes off without a hitch, that is, if you consider two extra uninvited magicians showing up to perform, one of which freaks the kids out shoving a knife through his palm (ahem, looking at you Roman). 

When Deb calls a family meeting after the party, Ava is thinking the worst. Deb is giving them up. The real reason, that Deb wants to adopt them, isn’t a great thing in Ava’s eyes either though. Deb says she wants Ava too, even though she’s 18. She nods, but in her mind she knows she’s leaving tomorrow and Deb will only be adopting Parker. The next morning, Ava is gone.

Ava has a definite pull to Xander and Roman. Is a love triangle brewing? Anyway, no time to dwell on that! They’ve arrived at their destination. It’s spooky, iron spikes and red gems everywhere.

The opening ceremony is… mostly a success, if you ignore the fact that Ava almost lost her place. She’s still in with a chance though!

Training begins and Ava feels out of place, she thinks she’s used up all of her magic. She is making some progress though. And something else that’s progressing? The flirting between her and Xander!

A week passes and Ava is starting to feel like part of the troupe. She even has a girls night out. Although, it ends with Ava being stuck with a vampire and Roman saving her and helping her out of the situation. In return, he asks for a favour, for her to perform with him on stage.

Xander and Aristelle go first and their ease on stage makes Ava so jealous! But, her time is here! The act goes exactly to plan, until she thinks of Xander and Aristelle together, and her knife doesn’t land true, but into Roman’s thigh. She lost concentration!

Xander picks up on her jealousy when they’re off stage and assures her it’s just a performance. She doesn’t head back in with him though. She has too much on her mind. 

In her naivety, she performs tricks and makes bets with men for money. They’re not just men though, she’s stumbled upon vampires, and she doesn’t have her stake or anything to protect her… Good thing Roman saves the day. Roman is angry though, because Xander hasn’t taught her how to heal herself. She says she won’t do it and won’t let him do it either, but eventually he just does it. Then, tries to give her the money to go home, back to Deb and Parker and Jacob. He’s adamant that it’s too dangerous for her but she’s stubborn, so instead he asks her to let him train her. Again, she says no. So he hits her weakness and offers to teach her how to kill vampires… And she agrees!

Do you think Ava made the right decision joining her troupe?
Any theories about what’s coming? Something sketchy must be afoot for Roman to be so adamant she needs to leave.
Team Xander or Team Roman? 👀

This has been an intense section, and I have a feeling tomorrow’s will be just as intense! See you then, fairies!


21 thoughts on “Cruel Illusions Readalong: Day 2!

  1. I think the way it makes her fell when she does magic and when she is around her troupe is good for her but I dont know about the competition I have a feeling its going to get a lot more dangerous and thats why Roman wants her gone maybe

    Because It cant be just that the competition is dangerous it has to be something else not just that he likes her I dont know why I have this feeling like they all know whose daugher she is and what she is capable of. It got me thinking when Xavier said to Justin that he know she is capable to do more after she did that lame coin trick.

    Oh and when those to men started talking to her I was oh no vampires girl they are vampires and than when Roman came I was like why I so wanted to see if she could have somehow access her magic and slayed them.

    Team Xavier or Team Roman dont know kind of want to see them with both and how they interact whith eich other I like them both currntley but if I had to choose maybe Roman I just get more caring vibes from him

  2. So much happened in this section! I think Ava definitely made the right decision in joining her troupe. I love Reina and Diantha!

    Right now I don’t have any theories about what’s coming, but I’m very excited for her to talk to all the people who had known her mom: Edgar, Julia, and especially Lucius.

    And I’ve gotta say Team Roman so far. Everything sounds suspiciously easy with Xander and I can’t say I’m into guys with green hair.

  3. Hm, a tentative yes for joining the troupe? I like Reina, Diantha and especially Aristelle.
    I maintain my theory that Roman is a vampire. He didn’t step inside Ava’s house without being invited, the vampire that attacked Ava, Diantha and Reina reacted oddly to Roman, there’s also his speed. We’re all thinking it, right?
    Lucius will clearly be the big bad. I’m not sure I believe the story of how the immortality gems came to be either. Or that they never create new ones. Too fishy. Plus, Ava’s mum must have been part of the OGs, or at least quite old. Very convenient that we haven’t gotten a single conversation with Edgar and Julia, for that matter.
    And team Roman for now. I don’t fully trust Xander, and while I usually like charming, flirty characters, his relationship with Ava is too superficial for me to commit. At least Roman is more worried about Ava not dying than his own interests.

  4. Team Roman!!

  5. Hey y’all!
    I don’t know if she made the fight decision. I definitely don’t think she was told much of anything. Also, her troupe doesn’t seem to be explaining the rules of the game very well. Walking into that party with no training at all, yikes.
    I am loving Roman though 😍 Cant wait to see where that relationship leads. I would like Xander but honestly he seems to be hiding a lot.

  6. So intense, I love the pace of each chapter! I think that it’s the right decision just because she’s starting to form relationships, even if they’re not telling her everything… I don’t think everything is a lie.

    I’m definitely Team Roman. He’s brooding and mysterious but you can feel how much he cares for Ava, for some unknowable, inexplicable reason. Is there some sort of “soulmates” thing? It’s almost like they’re “mated” and Xander is just a distraction.

    I keep going back and forth with why Roman wants Ava to leave. Because it’s not like he’s not part of the whole system. I guess I’ll find out more tomorrow! I’m glad I will be done by Friday, I actually love that we read at a brutal pace.

  7. So much info about her mom’s past at her fingertips. I hope she’s able to find answers (former troupe members, why she left, if she’s really considered “a deserter of the cause” & how that affected her/affects Ava, etc). Roman’s invitation to perform together, his silent strength after her mishap on-stage, & now offering secret additional training? Love triangle incoming.
    Daily Q&A:
    1.) Do you think Ava made the right decision joining her troupe?
    2.) Any theories about what’s coming? Something sketchy must be afoot for Roman to be so adamant she needs to leave.
    3.) Team Xander or Team Roman? 👀
    1.) I think it was necessary for her to confirm her mom’s past (troupe members, confirming real magic, the warning that if she had a family life after the troupe that she probably deserted & the repercussions of that choice, etc).
    2.) Roman’s incessant warnings is hinting at a lot more that her troupe has been keeping from her (not a good sign). He also already as good as said his own apprentice, Willow, is as good as lost. Sounds like something major is coming up.
    3.) Xander’s easy flirting & charm, constant forgetting to take her feelings into account with his performances with Aristelle, & withholding information from her so much while Roman is his polar opposite: serious, stoic, steady makes me lean toward Team Roman, but I’ll see where the twists & turns take me.

  8. 1. I think she did make the right decision, because it is her dream and the chance to get answers about what may have happened to her mother and how it became that her mother was on the run.
    2. I think he might know something about her family or something. I don’t think it is just guilt about running off the troupe’s previous apprentice. Either he got her killed and the situation was thus way worse than it seemed, or he knows more about something that has happened or will happen. Personally, I lean more towards him knowing something about her or her family because he is only trying to get her away, as if it is about her personally and not per se the other competitors.
    3. I’m leaning more towards team Roman! I like his personality more and while he doesn’t seem “good” he does seem more moral and loyal to me, which I like!

    Other thoughts;
    I think Ava’s mother might’ve been killed by Numerius! If she was important to Lucius, who’s the head, than she would be a perfect target for his enemies.
    I think Lucius may have tried to make more immortality stones and needed her mother for that, but her mother didn’t want to be die and/or be part of more blood magic and thus ran away.
    Also, her mother had the necklace with the stone the day before she died, so where is it now? I think Ava will find it and become immortal herself even if she doens’t win the competition! It just seems a bit convenient for there to be only 1 bracelet so either another person dies and 2 places need to be filled or she finds the stone from her mother and 2 still become immortal haha.
    I am also really curious to see what will happen between Ava and her mothers old troupe, who seems to be present! Also, Julia, I want to know more!

  9. I definitely trust Roman over Xander. Xander seems so blase about the dangers and keeps his metaphoric cards close to his chest.

    I want to know what the vampire had found interesting about Roman… could he be a vampire that kills other vampires… a reluctant vampire?

    I pretty much suspect most of the characters of being vampires pretending to be immortal magicians. I haven’t ruled anyone out.

    I don’t totally trust Willow but couldn’t say why. Too happy?

    I don’t think Lucius is at all a good guy.

  10. A lot has happened! Well, Ava barely passed the initial test. And she started training with Aristelle and Xander with some flirting with Xander on the side. Few of Ava’s mom’s old troupe were introduced, they definitely hold some answers.

    Thoughts on Shannon’s questions:
    1. I think Ava made the right decision joining the troupe. Xander and Aristelle maybe hiding something from her, but joining their troupe will help her hone her magic.
    2. Xander and Aristelle are definitely hiding something from her. Maybe it has something to do with her mom? I think her mom’s old troupe helped her get out of the society? Either Lucius or Numerius killed Ava’s mom. Maybe Lucius isn’t really the villain here it’s kind of obvious if he is.
    3. Team Roman!!!

    Love the ending of chapter 13! Ava somehow rebelling by agreeing to be trained by Roman, exciting! Can’t wait for the drama when Xander finds out!

  11. Do I have to pick a team? XD
    I like them both!
    I’m a day late but I should hopefully catch up tomorrow!

  12. Wow hard going to keep up with the readalong but so worth it. roman here. I am.not 100% sure why but xander is obviously only telling parts of the story. So keen to see what he is hiding. And usually it’s nothing good haha.
    2. Yes she had to join. If not it would be an eternal what if? Just feel sad she never had a proper goodbye with her brother. Leaving with just a note when she might never see him again is sad
    3. I feel as the fairyloot cover says win or… die. That this is not a simple case of memory whipped if she looses. The cover is a bit of a spoiler. Also wonder what happened to the guy ethan(?) That got dragged away…. like surely nothing good.
    Slowly warming to ava I must say. Keen to keep going now

  13. I’m definitely getting some big bad vibes from Lucius! He seems like he’s hiding things and I’m starting to think maybe he was the one that Ava’s mum was hiding from.

    I also still think that Roman is a vampire after the vampire saying that he smelled interesting.

    I’m slowly liking Ava a-bit more but sometimes she still feels a little immature.

    Definitely team Roman!

  14. Everyone seems to hiding something!

    The competition is clearly more dangerous than Xander and the troupe are letting on, as Roman wouldn’t be as worried if it wasn’t. Xander seems to be leading Ava on as well and the whole troupe seems to be using her as a means to an ends. Not to mention, her training seems incredibly inadequate! It’s also odd that so much of the troupe doesn’t hunt vampires when that seems to be the point of giving out the blood stones- to create a vampire fighting army. Seems like a waste of stones when others could be using them to hunt the vampires.

    Roman is also a little sus though. Why is he paying Ava so much attention when he has his own apprentice to worry about? Also the way the vampire reacted to him when he saved the girls on their girls night was odd. Is he a vampire himself? I honestly can’t recall if we’ve seen him in daylight but he did wait to be invited in the Ava’s home before he entered. Can’t wait to find out!

  15. Do you think Ava made the right decision joining her troupe?

    No. I think Xander is being a little fishy and using Ava. Maybe that’s the cynic in me? But I really don’t trust Xander.

    Any theories about what’s coming? Something sketchy must be afoot for Roman to be so adamant she needs to leave.

    Roman admitted to running off their last apprentice. I think he knows more about the troupe however, Ava isn’t ready to listen. I think we will learn that Xander’s troupe is not what we expected.

    Team Xander or Team Roman? 👀

    Roman. 100% Roman.

  16. 1) Ehhh I don’t think she had a choice, in the sense that this is the path to get the skills and info that she’s looking for.

    2) You know, earlier Roman said something like “I wish I’d met you first” and I thought he meant “first before Xander got you”, but maybe he meant “first before I met Willow”. Like if he can’t have Ava on his side, he doesn’t want her involved at all.

    3) Team All of These People Have Issues

  17. Not really sure I enjoyed this section. Again, I’m finding it hard to read due to not really connecting to the Ava, in my opinion she’s annoying and overly edgy. A bit sad really, since I really like the magic system and, of course, circus fantasy books.

  18. I’m still undecided about how I feel about this book. Some parts of the concept I like, others… not so much.

    Does anyone else get the impression this was originally written as a (spicier) adult novel and then re-written to fit a YA audience? I get that vibe mostly from the whole lust feelings after gaining power performing thing, which I find a bit icky to be honest.

    As for answers to the discussion questions:

    – Did Ava make the right decision? I think she should have just left it and not joined any troupes and lived in blissful ignorance, but then we wouldn’t have a story.

    – I have barely any theories. I’m waiting to find out Roman is a vampire or something. I definitely think Lucius/ whoever the head of the society is will turn out to be evil. I’m hoping we learn more about Ava’s mother’s history soon.

    – I prefer Roman slightly, but she still barely knows either of them. And even this slight preference is grossly overshadowed by my dislike of love triangles 😅

  19. I don’t have any predictions.
    I feel like Ava joining the troupe, I feel like something bad is going to happen and Ava is going to save the day.
    Team Xander. Something about Roman gives me weird vibes.
    Really liking the book so far

  20. I think Ava definitely made the right decision in joining her troupe. So far i’m loving Reina and Diantha! Right now I don’t have any theories about what’s coming, but I’m very excited to continue reading.

  21. I love the birthday party scene. It made me feel good about Xander. Roman is kind of suspicious, but I’m still rooting for him. I am very curious to see how the story continues.

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