Book Review: The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors // by M. A. Carrick

Book 1 of Rook & Rose

Pub Day: January 19, 2021

Publisher: Orbit

Length: 672 pages // 23 hr 13 min

Affiliate Link: Buy here on Bookshop.org

Synopsis:

This is your past, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither . . .

Arenza Lenskaya is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadezra, she fled that world to save her sister. 

This is your present, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither . . .

Renata Viraudax is a con artist recently arrived in Nadezra. She has one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune. 

This is your future, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither . . .

As corrupt nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the city of dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled—with Ren at their heart. And if she cannot sort the truth from the lies, it will mean the destruction of all her worlds.

My Thoughts:

I think this is the first print ARC I have received from my favorite publisher. It came in the mail several months ago and I felt like I had foreeverrr to read it so I enjoyed myself for a while with their other offerings, such as The Burning and The Reborn Empire. When I received an email about the audiobook for The Mask of Mirrors, I knew that waiting was the right decision. I really, really, very much enjoyed listening to Nikki Massoud narrate this book. Her voices and accents added so much character to this book and I’m not sure I would’ve pushed through the confusing parts if it hadn’t been for her.

To readers of The Kingkiller Chronicles, the opening lines will be very familiar. While I obviously don’t know whether the authors know of A Silence of Three Parts, it is hard to imagine they wouldn’t due to the obvious similarities. It made me sit up straight right at the start of the book and had me eager to learn more. The names of the people and places had me fascinated right away. I don’t know if they were based on a specific language or simply came out of their imagination – I’m sure someone smarter than me would know better if the authors haven’t already answered that question – but they sounded beautiful to me and perfect for the world that they created.

The first half of the book though is the one that I struggled with. I very much admire the imagination of the authors but there was almost too much information to be able to keep up with the actual story. While I loved all the different elements of the book – the names, the characters, the locations, the history, etc. – it felt like they just did not blend as well together into a cohesive and well-flowing story as they should have.

The first half of the book had a relatively low amount of magic. Even some of the inhabitants of the city seemed to doubt its existence sometimes, or at least the existence of certain forms of magic. It felt like more of a side character than a main part of the story. Halfway through though, it was as if all the magic was brought out at once, which felt rather off-putting with its abruptness. It just did not flow well. I had felt before as if there was more to its validity but this was a pretty harsh reality check, so to speak.

Once I got over that bump though, I absolutely loved the rest of the book. I felt almost enchanted by it and I still find myself thinking about the characters. Something that was really fun about the story was that rather soon into the book, I had certain suspicions about different people. Renata seemed to pick up the same hints as I did and explored their implications further. While sometimes I was right and sometimes I was wrong, it was great to follow along with her on her journey of discovery and deceit. The complexities that in the first half were too much eventually came together perfectly in the second half and formed an ending that was both satisfying as well as left much still open to be explored in the next book. I don’t want to give away any details but suffice it to say that I feel like a jilted lover with that ending and I am now sad that the book wasn’t twice as long. I cannot wait for book 2 to come out!

About the Authors:

M.A. Carrick is the joint pen name of Marie Brennan (author of the Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of the Adventures of Mr. Mystic). The two met in 2000 on an archaeological dig in Wales and Ireland — including a stint in the town of Carrickmacross — and have built their friendship through two decades of anthropology, writing, and gaming. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

About the Publisher:

Orbit is a leading publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with imprints in the UK, US and Australia. They publish across the spectrum of Science Fiction and Fantasy – from action-packed urban fantasy to widescreen space opera; from sweeping epic adventures to near-future thrillers. Launched in 2007, Orbit US is the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint at Hachette Book Group USA.

Follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on their book happenings! They often have giveaways going on so make sure you don’t miss out on those!

Thank you to the authors, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free print and audio copy in exchange for an honest review.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick

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