Reviews tagging Violence

The Mask of Mirrors, by M.A. Carrick

15 reviews

szuum's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging mysterious 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

4.25


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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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astroprojection's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious reflective 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? Yes

4.0

I liked this a lot. I think the world-building and politicking were pretty interesting and I loved the focus on clothes and fashion, whether it was Tess’s outfits for Ren or Vargo’s peak Slutty Crime Boss Ensembles. I especially loves the magical girl-esque transformation scene at the same end lmao, it was unexpected but stuck to the aesthetic so I dug it. I also like that as a first novel in a series, it had a plot that was developed and resolved so, while we do have some lingering threads, it’s not like we have a whole cliffhanger or anything. I did think the accents were kind of all over the place in the audiobook (not the reader’s fault but more so how haphazardly the settings in the book were mapped to different English accents).

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nadawn_author's review against another edition

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adventurous dark 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? Yes

5.0

Complex characters, intricate world-building, nail-biting suspense, deep cultural politics, a diverse cast, emotional maturity.  An exhilarating, serious, richly rendered fantasy novel exemplifying the highest standard of literary speculative fiction.  

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doot's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

5.0


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samespelho's review

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adventurous mysterious tense 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

5.0

“Oh yes. And Alta Renata has been very careful to leverage that interest. You’re not as innocent or naive as you pretend to be, little bird; you know this crowd. Half of them should be carving her to the bone with their tongues, especially when she’s absent. But no, everyone loves her. It’s obnoxious.”
Then, softly and without as much vitriol, Sibiliat added, “And it worries me.”

It took me a long time to get through this book, and every second was worse it. It's a long, complex read with multilayered worldbuilding and plenty of colorful characters. At the heart of it, we have the story of Ren's long-term con to infiltrate a noble family and secure money and safety for herself and her sister Tess. But there's so much more going on from the start. The entire city of Nadezra comes alive around Ren, full of splendor and secrets. Every character in the cast brings something special to the table and is interesting to follow. Initially, some plot threads seem to be hardly related to the main story at all, but by the end of the book, everything gets masterfully woven together, leaving just enough questions to set the scene for the next installment.

The pacing is relatively slow (up until the very last part when things positively snowball into action), and it really works for this kind of story. I loved familiarizing myself with Nadezra and getting hints at the wider world around it. There are a lot of descriptions here, and I never wanted to skip a single one. I predictably loved how casually queer the setting is: plenty of LGBTQ+ characters turn up on the page, and there's never a big deal made of their orientation or gender. 

I really enjoyed the magic system, too (or should I say, systems; there's more than one type here), and how there's a lot of divination grounded in the real-world practices like Tarot cards and astrology, but also with plenty of quirks that make it really fit into the secondary world setting. And then there was that part with dreamscapes that just had me on the edge of my sit the whole time. Talking about it more would be a total spoiler, but seriously, that part. Definitely my favorite.

A lot of the plot can be summed up as "figuring out the people behind masks." There's Ren's fake identity-based con. There's Rook, the mysterious vigilante looking out for the city's common people. There are all the nobles and criminals and other actors who constantly play games and weave intrigues, their intentions and motivations often unclear and mutli-faceted. It creates an immensely interesting landscape, almost a labyrinth, where the moment you think you have the latest mystery or political intrigue figured out, someone pulls a new card out of their sleeve—a card that has been there all along, one that you've already glimpsed as a reader, but its meaning was so carefully muddled.

All in all, I absolutely can't wait for the next book in the series. Not least because it's going to be my excuse to re-read this first one before I delve into the sequel—you know, just so I can make sure I can keep all the facts straight. I imagine there are a lot of details I've overlooked on the first read that will be fun to spot the second time around!

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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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