‘Utterly captivating. Carrick spins an exciting web of mystery, magic, and political treachery in a richly drawn and innovative world.’ S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass
Darkly magical and beautifully 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 Virdaux 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 aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted 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.
Let’s just start by talking about that cover, stunning! Don’t judge a book by its cover and all, but it’s hard not to when it looks like this. Did the tale live up to expectations?
The Mask of Mirrors is set in the city of Nadezra. This felt, to me, very Italian, specifically Venice. The city sits along side water ways, spanned by bridges and prone to flooding in certain months. The city itself is richly drawn, as a reader we get to experience every nook and cranny.
M.A Carrick really draw you into the city, you get a great sense of place. What everything looks like, smells like, the sights and sounds. In terms of world building, we are only focused on the city. Other areas are mentioned but not explored. Nadezra was more than enough though.
Ren is our main character; she has come to Nadezra with her sister Tess. Ren is a con woman with a very checkered past. They’ve come to work a long con on one of the noble houses, House Traementis, to secure their future. However, along the way things get very complicated and it becomes apparent that something much bigger is at play. Somehow Ren has found herself at the heart of it.
Political intrigue and power play is very much the focus of this book. Who is playing who and what do they gain from all their alliances? Because of this I did find it hard to keep everything straight at the beginning. It has a very slow build with the pieces only starting to come together towards the middle of the book.
The book is multi perspective, something I personally really enjoy. You get to know other characters well and what is going on across the city at the same time. This becomes very important towards the end of the story.
Vargo is a very interesting character, not giving much away, not even to the reader. He has climbed the ranks from River Rat to gaining respect and power among the nobility. He was probably the most intriguing to me, I love trying to work out a character and their motivations. I feel like we only scratched the surface in this book and there will be plenty more to come.
Grey was the other character I was drawn to. Trying to bridge a gap between different nationalities. There is quite a lot of racial tension in this story and Grey is caught in the middle. Again, I am really looking forward to seeing how his story arc develops.
Most of the characters we encounter are morally grey, so you can never be too sure what actions they will take. It certainly keeps you guessing.
The Magic System
One thing I would have liked to learn more about is the magic system. It never felt fully explained. Magic becomes an intrinsic part of the story later on and I wasn’t sure how it all worked, how people got the ability to imbue certain objects and how spells were made and cast. For me, it made things a little confusing towards the end.
Overall, The Mask of Mirrors is a lush, opulent world. Full of amazing details and beautifully weaved images. The main story arc in this book is wrapped up but there were certainly enough unanswered questions to leave you wanting more.
My thanks to Orbit for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. And to Tracy for an invite onto the blog tour.
M. A. Carrick is the pseudonym for Marie Brennan (author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of The Adventures of Mr. Mystic), yes, we pulled a fantasy version of James S. A. Corey because, why not?! With masked vigilantes, noble intrigue, and charming criminals, this is a dark, romantic, action-packed fantasy, perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and even The Princess Bride
‘Wonderfully immersive–I was unable to put it down.’ Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter
‘An intricate, compelling dream of a book’ Melissa Caruso, author of The Tethered Mage
‘I was utterly entranced by this glittering world filled with masked vigilantes, cunning conwomen, and dark magic. A sheer delight!’ Katy Rose Pool, author of There Will Come A Darkness