Reviews tagging Drug abuse

The Mask of Mirrors, by M.A. Carrick

3 reviews

valpuri's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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azrah786's review

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4.0

 [This review can also be found on my BLOG]

**I was gifted a copy by Orbit Books UK in exchange for an honest review**

CW: violence, death, death of a parent, grief, poverty, child abuse, kidnapping, substance abuse, xenophobia

Don’t you just love when a book that was not even on your radar absolutely blows you away!

The Mask of Mirrors welcomes us to Nadezra, the City of Dreamsa place laced with magic and full of manipulative nobles, crime lords and vigilantes – through the perspective of Ren, a con artist and her sister. They have returned to the city of their childhood to trick the elite members of society and secure a fortune for themselves. However, it’s not long before they get caught in the web of the family feuds, political power play, dangerous magic and machinations of the city.

First things first this book is slow paced and when I say slow I mean s l o w… but personally I loved it. The world-building and magic within this story are impressively extensive and rich. From the awe-inspiring outfit descriptions and entangled character relationships, to the excursions to the various nooks and crannies within the city, the pacing delicately immerses you into the setting and story.

We’re introduced to a vast number of characters, two intriguing magic system and their accompanying terminology, which to begin with are a tad overwhelming, but they painstakingly shape the discordant communities that form Nadezra. An annexed land rooted in xenophobia, we get a glimpse of how history and culture have pieced it together.

The amount of detail and thought behind everything in this story is truly remarkable. One thing, as someone not familiar with anything tarot or spirit related, that I did have some difficulty with though was fully understanding the magic system. However, as the seeds of plot and political intrigue started to trickle in I found myself not too bothered about that and I became totally engrossed with everything to do with this world.

Just as intricate as the world are the protagonists. Along with Ren there are two other leading narrators – Grey Serrado, a captain of the city’s police force following a lead of missing children and then Derossi Vargo, a notorious crime lord and businessman determined to climb into the ranks of the nobility. Other than it seeming a little too farfetched that Rin was able to uphold her array of identities under her circumstances for as long as she did, I thoroughly enjoyed all three storylines. Along with a handful of other subplots, they are continually entwining and it gets more and more interesting with each page!

Now I don’t know what more to say without giving stuff away but honestly if you are able to be patient with it, this book reaps the rewards. I’m just mad now that book 2 is nowhere in sight because I was nowhere near ready to leave these characters and be thrown out of this world after being so absorbed into it, particularly after THAT ending… I have a mighty need!!!

All in all I really enjoyed this book and I guarantee if you love intricate fantasy stories and misfits getting tangled into more than what they bargained for, then you will too!!
Final Rating - 4/5 Stars 

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lennie_reads's review

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adventurous challenging dark mysterious reflective tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for my ARC. 

'may you see the face and not the mask'  

I don't even know where to start with this book. 

Whatever I say will be inadequate to describe the complexities of this incredible new fantasy world and the stunning myriad of morally ambiguous characters. 

Think Six of Crows meets Game of Thrones and yet nothing like that. There are multiple POV's that flow flawlessly, very fleshed out characters who always keep you on your toes and a unique, yet understated magic system.

Our *main* character is Ren, who escaped from a street gang as a child with her 'sister' after seeing her 'brother' murdered as a punishment for something she did. As as adult, and pro con artist, she comes back to Nadezra to trick a rich family into believing she is an estranged relative, with the help of her 'sister' Tess. There is also a magical masked vigilante called The Rook, who is a Robin Hood esque figure. And in her various personas, Ren crosses paths with The Rook often; one of the main mysteries of the book being the identity of The Rook. 

There are a lot of politics and world building which at times can be confusing, especially as there are different ways to tell the time, different amount of days in a week, different amount of months etc. The magic system is also very complex. However, the different cultures and traditions are fascinating. 

Whilst this world is arguably still racist and frequently mentions racial tensions caused by people stealing land, the queer side of things is much more positive. Same sex marriage is completely normal and acceptable, including adoptive heirs being fully legitimate. We also have a lot of trans rep in the book. 
My only issue with *some* of the trans rep is that it is mentioned that in some cultures in this world, people adopt a different gender to inherit leadership titles. Which, in a world that has no issue with same sex marriage, adoptions, trans people etc, felt a bit off. 
I'm not trans but I felt that it could come across as insensitive to say that some people choose to be trans to aid their situation when a lot of people struggle with coming out, being diagnosed, receiving medical assistance etc and in the end, being trans isn't a choice. 

Overall though I really really enjoyed it. It's a gritty, deep, wonderful, intricate, layered, mysterious fantasy featuring found family and moral ambiguity and I'm desperate for book 2. 

~

CW: sex trafficking, death, violence, murder, drug use, drug trafficking, neglect, homelessness, sex work

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