So, give me fancy dress fantasy and morally grey protagonists, and I’m a happy gal. But sadly The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick felt a lot like painting-by-numbers and did not manage to get me invested. A lot of my friends really love it though, so do have a look if you think it might be for you – I just recommend a sample first!
Thank you to Orbit Books and NetGalley for the eARC, all opinions are my own as always.
STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶
RELEASE DATE: 21/01/21
SUMMARY: Fortune favors the bold. Magic favors the liars.
Ren is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house, securing her fortune and her sister’s future.
But the deeper she is drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, the more she realizes her masquerade is just one of many. And as corrupt nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the City of Dreams, the poisonous feuds of its wealthy and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled…with Ren at their heart. (from Orbit)
OPINIONS: I’m going to preface this by saying that two thirds of my friends have REALLY loved this (such as Sara, whose review on the Fantasy Inn is here) and the remaining third have pointed out similar issues to the ones I had with the book. So I really recommend you check out a sample and have a look yourself if you’re tempted!
Mask of Mirrors has everything that I like about a book. There’s stunning imaginery, fancy dresses, morally corrupt characters and no clear side of right or wrong. But nothing about it felt particularly new or innovative. For me personally, this was a fun read, but I kept craving more. While I enjoyed it, it did not pull me in on an emotional level, which I want books to do these days. It’s hard to find a systematic fault with the book, I think it just wasn’t the book for me.
There has been a lot of vaguely Venetian-set fantasy, and to be honest, none of it has really hit my sweet spot. The setting of Mask of Mirrors and its concept is wonderful and deep, the characters are interesting. I particularly liked Tess and found Vargo very charming despite being a fantasy-cop. But I guessed the big twist quite a bit before it was released, which took away the magic for me. I struggled with the fact that Ren doesn’t figure out someone else’s secret identity due to their voice – she is a con artist, she is by definition perceptive, and this just broke immersion for me. But again, I think this is a ME thing and not a BOOK thing. I’m definitely curious to pick up the second one in the series and see how the story continues.