[A quick note: I was extatic when Orbit sent me a publication copy of the Mask of Mirrors, which is out tomorrow. I wasn’t sure I’d get a copy. I wanted this book for both the description and the cover. You all know I’m a sucker for gorgeous covers. At first, I honestly didn’t know what to think. I thought it might be a 3 star review. GODS! I was so wrong. By the 50% mark, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. Couldn’t stop wracking my brains for clues to figure out who the Rook was. It was fun. Definitely a good read! Ended up giving it 4 stars. You can see why in my review.]
Ren is a con artist, newly arrived to the sparkling city of Nadezra, trying to trick her way into the noble House Traementis, but she isn’t the only one hiding behind a mask. The noble houses are all clawing their way to power, dragging everyone along with them. What’s more, nightmare magic, in the form of a drug known as Ash, is sweeping through the city. With poisonous feuds and a radical underbelly screaming for justice, Ren soon finds herself caught in the middle of a fight that might just bring down an entire city.
A long con, rich world building, multiple POVs, political intrigue. There’s so much that makes this dark fantasy worth reading. And plenty to keep you entertained. While it’s a long read, over 600 pages! It was deeply satisfying. I enjoyed the plot, the morally gray characters and the touches of unique culture that made the story feel real. For example, the use of “patterns” which was this world’s equivalent to tarot card reading.
While the story started out a bit slow for my tastes, mostly due to the complicated world building, I couldn’t put it down once I was hooked. Especially because I was so eager to figure out the identity of the mysterious Rook.
The culture stood out to me, with a following built around “patterns”, a unique magic system built around inscribing, and a strange drug that ties one to the dream realm. I can see this being an awesome read for tarot card lovers. Especially because there are many moments in the plot where things are discovered through the use of reading “patterns” in the cards. I LOVED this aspect. It was unique and I don’t think i’ve seen it done elsewhere.
The world building was also impressive. Unique days of the week, months, titles. It was clear the authors put a great deal of effort into building this story. However, at times, I felt this was a downfall. There were places it felt unnecessarily bloated. Sometimes I couldn’t follow the story because I didn’t know which days of the week, or moths referred to what. I was either forced to flip to the glossary and slow my reading down, or forgo my understanding and deal with not knowing. This meant that plenty of holes in my overall interpretation of the story cropped up. This definitely took away from my reading experience and it’s the reason I did not give it 5 stars. Definitely a bummer there.
But there was so much more to lend to my enjoyment. I loved Ren’s character. I loved Vargo’s even more. He was extremely morally gray. And of course Grey was fun too. Each of the characters came from a different walk of life, but yet, they were woven together seamlessly. I enjoyed each of their POVs.
If you’re someone who loves complicated fantasy, political intrigue, rich cultural world building, and attention to detail, I think you’ll really enjoy this one. And it’s the first in the series. I will definitely be picking up the second, whenever it comes out. MY RATING: 4/5⭐️
A huge thank you to Orbit for this publication copy in exchange for my honest review! THANK YOU!!