fantasy · Reviews

ARC Review: The Mask of Mirrors | M.A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors (Rook & Rose #1) | M.A. Carrick

Page count: 672 pages

Publication date: January 19, 2021

Publisher: Orbit

Genres: Adult, fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy, gothic, magic

Synopsis

Darkly magical and intricately imagined, The Mask of Mirrors is the unmissable start to the Rook & Rose trilogy, a rich and dazzling fantasy adventure in which a con artist, a vigilante, and a crime lord must unite to save their city.

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams…

Renata Viraudax is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.

But as she’s drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.”

Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

5/5 glowing stars!

First of all, what a completely perfect book to start off 2021! There is no better way to start a year than a perfect rating! This was amazing. Imagine Six of Crows, but everyone’s grown up, there’s cons instead of heists, and everything is much, much darker. Well, I guess it doesn’t sound as much like Six of Crows now, but it has the same vibe and excellence!

Ren is a con artist who has come to the city of opportunity with one goal: to con a noble family to secure her fortune and her sister’s future. She never expected to actually become attached to the family, or the people around her. And she definitely didn’t expect corrupt magic, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats, and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly to become tangled — with Ren at their heart.

A big make or break in a book is the characters. Are they interesting? Are they unique? Do they have any kind of character arc? I was on the lookout for all of those characteristics, and I’m happy to report that all of them were checked off!

What I especially loved was that we got some gray area characters! Does doing the wrong thing for the right reason make it okay? What about doing the right thing for the wrong reason? We got that with basically our entire cast of characters. Our main character is literally a con artist! She walks that thin line and is an amazing MC. I have trouble finding a main character that I actually enjoy reading, so I’m glad I found one in her. My favorite character, Vargo, is an enterprising crime lord. What could possibly be cooler? He’s also a bit of a grown-up, cutthroat Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows (yeah I know, sorry for all the SoC references but this book reminds me so much of it) who, if you know me at all, you’ll know I LOVE him, just as I LOVE Vargo! Seriously, I can’t wait for more in book two.

The Mask of Mirrors brought in a super diverse cast! Not only in personality (though thank goodness it’s diverse there too) but in every aspect! We got to see all different kinds of LGBTQ+ representation as well as an interesting one I haven’t ever seen written about. Vargo, the best character in the book (in my humble opinion), has nosophobia. Nosophobia is the fear of contracting an illness or developing a disease. Vargo is a normally unshakable person who takes great pride in his dignity. So to see him gone completely limp from fear, so much so that he had to be carried around another character’s neck like a scarf, really just goes to show how much something like that can level your world, no matter how strong or powerful you are.

The worldbuilding in this novel was so rich and consuming that it didn’t feel at all like anything I’ve read! I know I keep saying that this book is unlike anything I’ve read and then I call it Six of Crows or something, but it really has so many unique elements that I just love. I was a little confused at the beginning with all the terms, but I, the idiot, didn’t notice the glossary or character index at the end until I was an embarrassing amount of the way through the book (the end). I’m so glad it was included! When reading political high fantasy books, I get the names and terms mixed up too often.

The Mask of Mirrors was written by M.A. Carrick, which is the pen name for two authors working together. When I read a book written by multiple authors, it’s really a no go for me if I can tell the writing apart. But these two writers fit seamlessly, so much so that I would never have guessed there were two of them if I didn’t read the author blurb!

I’ve been looking at the reviews on Goodreads for a while now, trying to find why anyone could have rated it below five stars, and the complaint I see most is the pacing. Yes, the pacing can be a little slow at times. The book is nearly 700 pages! Do you expect it to zoom along the entire time? I actually enjoyed the slower pacing when it cropped up, though the pacing was pretty good for the most part, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t even think about it until I saw the reviews.

I absolutely loved this book! It blew away all my expectations. I’m so grateful I got to read a copy, and I would 100% recommend it! I positively can’t wait for the second book to be released, and I wonder what else these authors could create!

I hope you’ll pick up this book! What did you think of the review? Sound interesting?

12 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Mask of Mirrors | M.A. Carrick

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