Reviews tagging Drug use

The Mask of Mirrors, by M.A. Carrick

7 reviews

spacewhombus's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging mysterious tense 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? It's complicated

5.0

AHHH THIS WAS AMAZING! It has been a while since I have been so drawn in by a new series!!! Immediately got the second book because I don’t want to leave this world yet, even after 700 pages :(

And that’s because the world building was incredibleeeee, like it started off a bit slow but the story kept building layers upon layers and really drew me in very quickly without being overwhelming, despite the complex religious systems and magic. Although the whole story takes place in one city, Nadežra, there was such a rich variety of neighborhoods and groups of people there that it felt much bigger than that!

The main characters came from both the privileged nobility and the struggling indigenous population, and this book explored a lot of the effects of colonialism and wealth, and the blurred lines between good vs. evil and doing things for others vs. doing them for yourself. 

Ren was my favorite, she was so creative and smart and I loved reading about her relationship with her siblings, as well as trying to figure out how she would handle all the twists and turns her character was thrown. Vargo was another favorite character of mine, and I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say I am DYING to learn more about what’s going on with him in the next book! The authors wrote this whole society as very LGBTQ+ friendly as well, and there are queer characters all over the place without that being the only facet of their identity.  

There were many smaller side plots alongside the main storyline, and quite a few mysteries as well- my heart STOPPED when I got to the last chapter because of the reveal of the Rook, omg. Again no spoilers but I did not see that coming! The authors are great at keeping your interest while slowly unraveling the overall mystery and pulling the loose ends together into one larger storyline. 

If you like books with a lot of political intrigue and drama, you would love this! There was so much going on, it never got boring.

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ariel790's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.25

Decent read. 

The story had plenty of mystery and adventure to keep me reading. However, there were many places it fell short. Moments that were rushed through that if the author(s) had taken more time to describe, it would have elevated it to another level. As I read, I wanted it elevated to be able to immerse myself into the story without needing to guess and fill in the blanks, but that never really happened. Don't get me wrong, details are given, but more so on world building by describing location with emphasize given on the story's tarot card/astrology equivalent. Where I felt it lacked, was often during the action - how that made a character feel, or what they were motivated by in the moment. Other places, importance was given on the differences in the cultures or races, but this difference was never really explained, only glossed over. Some of the minor characters were not described at all beyond their name. Some things just existed without a how or why given. Often times, this left me with more questions than answers.

The main issues were resolved, with some mystery opened up for the sequel - and because there is sequel with further chance for the author to delve more into the world and explain the intricacies where I felt it lacked, I'd say at least worth a read, if you have the time. Wouldn't suggest it as a top priority though.

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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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perditorian's review

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adventurous 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

4.25


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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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bookforthought's review

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adventurous slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

What a ride this book was! I mean, only by reading the blub I knew this was a book for me: a con artist, a vigilante and crime lord, plus magic? Count me in for the ride!

Ren was an absolute joy as a main character and I loved, loved, loved following her. She definitely has everything it takes to pull off such an elaborate con: she's incredibly smart and knows how to manipulate people, using her knowledge, beauty and talent for disguise to their full effect. She's also fiercely loyal, and I adored her relationship with her sister Tess. Multiple POVs alternate throughout the book, and I think that worked extremely well.

I ended up feeling really invested in all the key characters. Each of them had their share of dangerous secrets, and they were all extremely well-rounded and multilayered. Special shoutouts to Vargo, a crime lord trying to work his way into local nobility, and Serrado, the conflicted captain who wants to use the guards' resources to benefit the lower classes instead of the rich. I loved these two so much!

But this is just scratching the surface. In this book there are so. many. characters! The cast is extremely varied and diverse, and it got to the point where I really struggled to remember who everyone was (especially when some of the names look quite similar). I did find out that there was a character list at the end, which I hadn't realised up until I got there (joys of reading the e-arc version!), and I would have definitely consulted it frequently if I had! There was also a glossary, which again would have been very useful had I noticed its existence before getting to the end of the book, since I struggled with remembering a lot of this world's vocabulary. Definitely won't make that mistake again!

The world itself was beautifully built, with its complex society and history. I particularly liked that characters came from different backgrounds, and seeing the world through their eyes made it easier to understand the ethnic, religious and class conflict in the book. The local traditions were especially interesting, and so crucial to the plot, that it was a great pleasure to just learn more about them. The descriptions were quite detailed, which often was nice, but sometimes felt just a tad too long, and didn't really help the pace.

Now, the pace was where my biggest issue with this book was. I often have this problem with adult fantasy books, so it's most likely a case of "it's not you, it's me", but for a large part of the book it just felt as if I was stuck in a loop: it didn't matter how much I read in a sitting, I just wasn't moving forward. As I said, I loved the characters and I enjoyed spending time with them, and the plot was engaging, full of twists and turns and danger and revelations, but still... somehow the pace felt off. Again, this is most probably me rather than the book itself, but it took something away from the experience for me.

Overall, though, The Mask of Mirrors was a really great read. Filled with engaging characters, a complex world, lies, danger, magic and a gripping plot, it's the perfect companion in these long, cold winter days. I'll take the rest of this trilogy now, please and thank you, I need to know what Ren gets up to next!

For this and more reviews, visit Book for Thought.

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.


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erin_lovell's review

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challenging dark mysterious sad tense slow-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0


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