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Masks and Shadows

(Masks and Shadows #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  541 ratings  ·  145 reviews
The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy's carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus's mis ...more
Paperback, 317 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Pyr (first published April 5th 2016)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  541 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really liked this book. It's a fun historical fiction novel that has some interesting magical elements infused into the political intrigue. I'm a sucker for musicians and opera, and this book features a fantastic female protagonist who moves in the world of Hapsburg palaces and nobles. There were a lot of really fun historical details that drew me in the world. There's romance, but it's not a romance book persay. If the unique setting attracts you, give it a look! ...more
Dec 29, 2014 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
My first adult historical fantasy - and I'm editing this "review" to take out all the preordering talk, because it is OUT NOW! Eeee!

You can still read the first two chapters on my website:

But it's also available to buy now:

I am so happy that this book is finally out in the world. :)
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
This was one of those lucky 'I'll just read a couple of pages to see' that ends up as something really good.

What does this book have to recommend it? Apart from its interesting setting, both place and time, it has great characters, writing and story.
None of the characters can fully claim the title 'main' though. It works well in this case.
There is mystery, a plot against the emperor and empress and a dash of magic. And one mustn't forget a horror element. The thing is, nothing in this novel i
Sherwood Smith
Copy provided by the publisher.

Stephanie Burgis, well-loved as an author for YA and middle-grade fantasy, hits the ground running with her first adult fantasy in this fast-moving, sometimes wistful and romantic, sometimes sinister opera of a novel, Masks and Shadows, which should appeal to readers who enjoy palace intrigue with a dash of fantastical horrorific elements.

Charlotte, a young widowed baroness, travels to the new Esterhazy estate built by the extravagant Prince Nicolaus, where Haydn w
Zen Cho
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, sff, romance
I thoroughly enjoyed this swooningly romantic historical fantasy, operatic both in subject matter and style. I was impressed by the pace, the skillful handling of plot and the management of a large cast of characters -- while many of them are recognisable tropes they are also all people. The book's also very funny! ...more
May 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Too many point of view characters, all of whom were passive.

And apparently I'm not a fan of blended genres: I think I'd have enjoyed this a little more, passivity and all, if the conspiracies were straight politics. Instead, there were too many characters all ultimately manipulated by specters and hypnosis. And they all led such miserable lives, too.
E.M. Tippetts
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love Stephanie Burgis's writing! She's been a favorite of mine for a long, long time. Masks and Shadows doesn't disappoint. My only complaint was that I ended up confined to a chair for most of today reading through the last chapters. There was no way I could put it down.

Set in Hungary during the reign of the Hapsburgs, what begins as a social visit of a widowed older sister to her married/mistress younger sister soon begins to turn sinister. Two bodies are found drained of blood and two alche
Para (wanderer)
I knew I have to read this immediately as soon as I saw the blurb. Historical fantasy set in 1779 Habsburg empire, featuring alchemy, a castrato, a widow, and a Prussian spy? At a time where I’m explicitly interested in the 18th century? (My current focuses might be France and Prussia, but I’ll take what I can get.) Yes. Yes please.

And this time, I was not disappointed. It was so much my catnip.

The plot mostly revolves around Charlotte, a widowed noblewoman who came to Esterháza to visit her sis
Laura Florand
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was quite fascinating! It's got darker and more intense tones than the Kat books, but still with Stephanie's deft blend of history and fantasy. And I loved the romance between Charlotte and Carlo. Loved the humanness and naturalness to the way that developed as they learned to see past their initial expectations. Although their romance is very central in the development of the story, it's historical fantasy rather than romance per se, and other characters have major roles as well. These cha ...more
If you’re a fan of historical fantasy, swoon-worthy romances, or classical music, then Stephanie Burgis’ standalone novel MASKS AND SHADOWS is a must-read.

The court of Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy of Hungary, is a secluded yet opulent palace where the Prince lives with his wife…and his exuberant young mistress, Sophie. When Sophie invites her elder sister, the straight-laced widow Charlotte Von Steinbeck to Esterháza for the season, Charlotte has no idea of the political machinations, dark magic
Rachel Neumeier
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story is set in the late 1700s, in the Habsburg Empire – not a setting I’m particularly familiar with. The only historical character whom I recognized was Joseph Haydn and I can’t claim to know much about him, either. I see via Wikipedia that he really was employed by the Esterházy family for a good part of his career. I expect plenty of historically aware readers would probably know a good deal more than I do about many of the other secondary characters, like the Emperor and Empress of the ...more
Intrigue, music, romance, and alchemy, all converging in one of 18th century Hungary's grandest opera houses - that's the premise for Masks and Shadows, the debut adult historical fantasy by Stephanie Burgis. Set in Eszterháza Palace, the home of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, this standalone follows the recently widowed Charlotte von Steinbeck and the renowned castrato singer Carlo Morelli. Both are visiting Eszterháza under different circumstances, and meet as composer Joseph Haydn is about to pre ...more
Y.S. Lee
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a bold historical fantasy set in Hungary, 1779, at the height of the Habsburg monarchy. Featuring opera, alchemy, political intrigue and “the most famous castrato in Europe” as its romantic hero, it’s an astonishing, richly detailed novel. As both musician and music historian, Burgis writes about the power of music with unusual freshness and subtlety. She also has a keen eye for social and cultural detail. And, as fans of her middle-grade Kat, Incorrigible trilogy might expect, there’s a ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Masks and Shadows is an enjoyable historical fantasy novel with a grand conspiracy, music, and romance set almost entirely within Eszterháza Palace in Hungary in 1779. I loved the oft-overlooked setting and Charlotte's personal journey and found it to be an incredibly readable, absorbing story. Since it had a LOT of characters, it didn't have as much in-depth character development as I would have liked, but I did think it was definitely worth reading!

3 1/2 stars - a solid, enjoyable book that I
katayoun Masoodi
Apr 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, fantasy, historical
i really liked the setting and the story, though not sure if i liked the fantasy element or could understand how it helped the story and not detracted from it. Also not sure if i really liked any of characters, didn't dislike them only didn't really, really like any of them. so enjoyable and would like to see what friends thought of it, but won't be forcing it on anyone ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I'd probably accurately rate this one somewhere between 3.25-3.5 stars. I found the story pretty interesting, if fairly straightforward and lacking just a touch more development when it came to character relationships. The characters themselves were okay; not remarkable, but not bland either. ...more
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Singularly amazing. Highly recommended.
Patrick Samphire
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The year is 1779, the place is the Eszterháza Palace in Hungary. The famous castrato singer Carlo Morelli is travelling to the palace as a guest of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, but he is not the only one. He's accompanied by a famous alchemist, Ignaz Von Born, and a man he suspects to be a spy. Already arrived at the palace is the recently widowed Charlotte von Steinbeck visiting her younger sister, Sophie.

But there are plots brewing at the palace. The Habsburg Emperor and Empress are about to vi
Tressa (Wishful Endings)
MASKS AND SHADOWS is a darkly romantic tale set in historical Austria. The author did a marvelous job in her characterizations, descriptions, and overall plot. Adult historical romance readers who enjoy Gothics or historical romance with a slightly dark edge will enjoy this one.

I couldn't help getting pulled in to this story. The author's writing was so well done that I could envision the rich scene with its opulent rooms, the craziness of the concert master and his singers, the dark and dangero
Mary Catelli
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
An alternate history featuring Haydn and Prince Esterházy, and also a secret society that dabbles in alchemy and worse -- which works.

The main characters are Charlotte, a widow taking refuge with her sister -- the prince's mistress -- and Carlo, a castrato singer and only nominal guest.

It involves the Princess having Charlotte call on her, two runaway lovers, a new opera, a surprising visit, the sweet voice of Charlotte's maid, a foolish lieutenant who made promises while drunk, and more. Somewh
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

This spring, Masks and Shadows rocketed its way up to my most highly anticipated list. With its themes of palace intrigue, passionate romance, secret conspiracies and dark magic, the book sounded right up my alley and I am pleased to say that Stephanie Burgis’ first adult historical fantasy did not disappoint.

The story takes place in 1779, transporting readers to the extravagant court of Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy of Hun
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: European fans, music lovers, and fantasy fans!
Shelves: fantasy
Originally posted on Books & Bottles.

We are giving away a copy of Masks and Shadows and an ARC of A Congress of Secrets - USA & Canada, giveaway ends September 12th at 11:59PM MST! Check out our post to enter!

Thank you to Lisa from Pyr (Prometheus Books) for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

I am absolutely fluffed. It was in the wee hours of the morning that I finally finished Masks and Shadows and there was only a sushi date with Kassandra that interrupted my reading. I was hooked around
Seregil of Rhiminee
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Risingshadow.

Stephanie Burgis' Masks and Shadows is a first-rate historical fantasy novel for adult readers who are interested in lush, romantic and well written stories. It offers engaging entertainment and thrilling moments to readers who are willing to let themselves be immersed in a good story. It has a wide target audience, because it will appeal to many readers.

Before reading Masks and Shadows, I took the opportunity to read the author's young adult novels (The Unla
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh the cover intrigued me and so did the blurb and yet I really didn't know what to expect in this book. I just knew it was about a historical setting, opera, and lots of music... and a bit of the paranormal thrown in. Yea, I knew this one would be for me.

The book goes through several POVs but what was confusing at first was just remembering who was who and that would have been a problem for me if it was only one POV. Quickly, it did settle in my head enough that the book took off and then short
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was such a breezy, captivating read! It's no secret that I love fiction connected to art - music, dance, singing, drawing, you name it. There is just something magical, irresistible in it for me.

Masks and Shadows is doubly that. Some of its charm is the setting - opera! opulence! courtly intrigues! secret societies! Aah, it took me right back to my teens when I discovered Consuelo by George Sand ( a book about a young, beautiful opera singer in 18th century plus lots of secret societies stuf
I think the best thing I can do is link to Sherwood's wonderful review, as she says it all. Opera is not really my thing, so I had a harder time loving what the book did so well. Also, my least favourite type of romance is the super-experienced guy + virginal woman, which has as much to do with worries about STDs in historical fiction as anything. But, I loved Charlotte and Anna, and found the historical setting fascinating, so it was good. Looking forward to reading Congress of Secrets. ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I did something unusual after I finished this book -- I immediately turned to page 1 and started reading it again! I completely fell in love with these characters and this setting. I don't read historicals often, but Burgis is able to work in so many great setting details without overwhelming or confusing me. The romance *really* worked for me -- I love more unconventional heroes! ...more
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable historical fantasy set in the Hapsburg Empire, featuring alchemists, Masons, opera and a host of other interesting things. I don't think I've every read a fantasy with a castrato as the love interest before, but Burgos makes him intriguing, and the romance between the singer and the baroness is charming and believable. Highly recommended! ...more
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Review to come closer to publication.
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I am quite possibly the world's largest fan of The Phantom of the Opera, so when I received Masks and Shadows a couple years ago from PYR for review, I was ecstatic. A novel set in a true historical setting, revolving around an opera singer and a Baroness who must shuck the constraints of "proper" society off to be happy–oh, and there's a darker undertone of evil alchemists who are threatening the safety of everyone in the palace. What's not to love?

Now that I've finished reading Masks and Shado
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I grew up in America, but now I live in Wales with my husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, our sons, "Mr Darcy" and "Mr X", and our sweet (and extremely vocal) tabby cat, Pebbles. I write fun, funny MG fantasy novels (most recently The Princess who Flew with Dragons) and wildly romantic adult historical fantasy novels and novellas (most recently Moontangled).

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