Review: The Mask of Mirrors or a con artist, a magic atmosphere and more!

Hello everyone and happy Monday! I hope that your week has started in the best possible way! Today I am here with the first review of April, let’s hope it would be the first of many!

Title: The Mask of Mirrors
Series: Rook & Rose #1
Author: M.A. Carrick
Publication Date: January 21st, 2021
Pages: 630

Fortune favors the bold. Magic favors the liars.
Ren is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadežra with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house, securing 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 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.
The Mask of Mirrors is the unmissable start to the Rook & Rose trilogy, a dazzling and darkly magical fantasy adventure by Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, writing together as M. A. Carrick

This book was surprising is a lot of different ways. I don’t know why, but when I saw it first around the blog community I wasn’t really interested. And it was strange because: amazing cover? check! (Yes, I know, I am shallow, sue me!) an heist story? check! Venetian Atmosphere? check! So, it was really up my alley, and yet I wasn’t interested. Go figure! But then interesting reviews popped up here and there, and I became curious. And I am just so glad that the reviews managed there were all the other things failed, because I had an amazing time with this book. And now I am here, waiting for the sequel to come out. Because I want more!

Let’s just spend a moment watching the cover, okay? Because it is wonderful! And that mask is wow! And yes, I love Venetian mask, because they are beautiful, and this one is no exception. But you have eyes, and you can see it for yourself, so let’s talk about other things.
We have an amazing cast of characters. Ren, our main protagonist, is a con artist, and she really is an artist. She is a former gutter rat that is now impersonating a noblewoman, and then, just because one role wasn’t enough, impersonating also a fortune teller of sort. And she is amazing. Her character is really well developed, and she really is good at what she does. As I said, an artist. And it is a thing that I appreciated a lot.
But there is more to her. She is fierce, she is determined, and she is brave. But, more important, she is loyal and she has a good heart.
And then we have Vargo, a deliciously morally grey character that I loved. Okay, I am not so happy with him at the moment, but I am mighty intrigued by him, and he is a two-time rogue who is, ultimately, loyal to himself. He is a sort of crime lord who is trying to make his way between the nobles, and he has some interesting qualities.
Grey is, somehow, Vargo’s counterpart. Where Vargo is flashy, and sometimes, flamboyant (both in his appearance and in his behavior), Grey is private and quiet. But he is determined, and he is loyal, even if his situation is quite peculiar, since he is standing on the border between his two identity, one of the hawks, the military force who is governed by one of the noble house, and one of the vraszenians, the more discriminated and poor people (they are a population on their own, and they are subject to prejudices and discrimination). So his life is not easy. At all. But he tries his best to do the right thing. I admit that it took some time for me to warm to him, but he is an interesting character in his own ways.
And aside these three we have some other really interesting characters. Tess, for example, is amazing in her own ways. She is loyal, she is an artist at sewing and she is just precious. Sibiliat is another interesting character. I am not a fan of her, because she is the mean girl, but she is not your typical mean girl, and this made her quite interesting (even if I have a thing to say here, I think that her part of the story is left unfinished. Sure this is only the first book, but it seems like her strings didn’t tied up cleanly, and even if we have time to see all resolved in the sequel I think that here it wasn’t something really well done. But it is a minor thing). We have other interesting characters, but you just have to meet them for yourself!

But the characters aren’t the only good thing in there. We have a deliciously Venetian atmosphere, that permeate all the book (even if I have to say that it remembered me both of Venetia and St. Peterburg) and that it is quite fitting. And we have a really complex society in there, with two different population, and some interesting religion too. And a magical system that is interesting. It is not a single system, since we have two different cultures, if not even more, so we have different ways to make magic, based on tarot and astrology. I was intrigued, but also a bit confused. On one hand I appreciated it quite a lot, because it is original and intriguing, but on the other hand I think it was a bit too much.

And we have a rich plot. We have a con, sure, but we have also intrigues, social unrest, twist, and action. A lot of action. It is a long book, but I didn’t mind in the least. I was just so fascinating by all of this, and so intrigued by the plot, that move nicely forward, that I devoured it.
The only thing that didn’t really work for me, and that made me lost interest for a bit, was the part about the dream/nightmare land, if I can say so. But this is not a fault of the book, it really is well developed and it is, in some ways, interesting. But I really hate all the dreamish/nightmarish atmosphere and story and whatever. And so this was just not my cup of tea. At all. But this is more my problem than the book. If you don’t have the same dislike you would have no problems with it!

It is quite a long book, sure, but I devoured it. I was fascinated by it. And I loved the characters, and the setting. And now I am here, waiting for the sequel to come out. And I really hope that the waiting won’t be too long!

And that’s all for today! What do you think? Have you read this book? Or do you want to read it?? Let me know!

Happy reading!
S.

12 thoughts on “Review: The Mask of Mirrors or a con artist, a magic atmosphere and more!

  1. One Book More says:

    Great review! I felt the same way you did when I first saw and heard about the book – loved the cover but didn’t have a ton of interest in it. I don’t know why because it totally sounds like a book I’d love. lol Adding it to my TBR now!

    Liked by 1 person

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