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The Mask of Mirrors

(Rook & Rose #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,402 ratings  ·  525 reviews
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
Paperback, 630 pages
Published January 21st 2021 by Orbit (first published January 19th 2021)
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Alyc Helms Thanks for asking. The Mask of Mirrors is definitely Adult Fantasy and would possibly be disappointing for readers looking for YA - we love YA, but we…moreThanks for asking. The Mask of Mirrors is definitely Adult Fantasy and would possibly be disappointing for readers looking for YA - we love YA, but we're also aware that the genre conventions and expectations for the two are different.

We asked our publisher about this, and apparently it's a common problem they constantly have to push back. They said that adult fantasy books written by women and femme-presenting people are often shelved as YA even when they aren't. It's a little frustrating to run afoul of that sort of culturally embedded sexism, but there's not a lot we can do about it. We just have to trust in perceptive readers like you to question the difference.(less)
Alyc Helms Thank you for asking! The Mask of Mirrors is the first book in the Rook and Rose Trilogy, so there are seeds and hooks at the end of the first book th…moreThank you for asking! The Mask of Mirrors is the first book in the Rook and Rose Trilogy, so there are seeds and hooks at the end of the first book that lead to the second book. However, the central plot for the first book wraps up all the major elements introduced and finishes on a new status quo -- no cliffhangers!

We just turned in the second book, which will be out in November of this year, and the same thing is true there. We finish the story, but the end of the story comes with a few 'what comes next?' style questions.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,402 ratings  ·  525 reviews

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Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
after reading several average YA books back-to-back, i forgot just how deep and complex adult fantasy can be.

it was so refreshing to read such nuanced writing. i mean, the narrative value of this story alone is high. i really enjoyed the storytelling, primarily the writing style, but also the vast web of connected characters and plot.

i was actually getting a lot of ‘the lies of lock lamora’ vibes from this in terms of conning high society. to me, the sly characters and complex deceptions were t
Amy Imogene Reads
4.5 stars!

Give us a pseudo-Venetian atmosphere, a criminal underbelly like Six of Crows but grown up, and a twisty-turny plot like the best of the best... Y'all need to read this!

Plot: ★★★★★
World building: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★

There was nothing that I did not love about this. Masterful writing, nuanced world building, and twisting character arcs. It was a bit long, but who can blame the author for that?? There was a lot to cover.

Ren comes to the city of Nedezra with
Alex (The Scribe Owl)
See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl!

Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

5/5 glowing stars!

First of all, what a completely perfect book to start off 2021! There is no better way to start a year than a perfect rating! This was amazing. Imagine Six of Crows, but everyone's grown up, there's cons instead of heists, and everything is much, much darker. Well, I guess it doesn't sound as much like Six of Crows now, but it has the same vibe and ex
Lucie V.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Orbit Books). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Setting / World-building
✅ Characters (some are morally grey)
✅🆗 Complex intrigue
🆗 Magic system
🆗 Number of characters

Ren is an orphan (and ex-street rat) trying to con her way into a noble family to ensure a future for her younger sister and herself until she realizes that she got involved in something way bigger than a simple con. She is thrust into the middle of family feuds and politic
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
On my blog.

Rep: bi mc, lesbian side character, trans side character

Galley provided by publisher

Before I start this review, I think I ought to be clear that this isn’t a bad book. It’s actually quite good, from an objective standpoint. But it’s also a book that pissed me off no end.

The Mask of Mirrors follows Renata, who plans to infiltrate a noble house by pretending to be a long-lost cousin, for reasons which are currently lost to me but we shall assume involves wanting their money. Only, b
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I was sent this by the publisher but my review is my honest feelings on the book *

This story is one I was pretty excited for as it's written by one of the authors I've really enjoyed previously, Marie Brennan. She co-authored it with Alyc Helms, and this was a perfect pairing, their styles melded really seamlessly together.

The main characters of this book were a lot of fun, I really enjoyed getting to know them all bit by bit.
Ren is the first and most major of the characters, she's a street r
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 update: decided to round up to 5 cause its been 5 days and I miss this world so much and I already want to re-read it.

Video Review (Spoiler Free):

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book.

What a fun fantasy read! I loved the character relationships and how they developed throughout this story. I think even though it is a slow pace at the beginning I didn't mind because all I wanted to do was watch these quiet moments where ch
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Mask of Mirrors was beyond addicting to me. I will admit it did start off pretty well for me but then dragged a little here and there because I kept getting distracted by work and other things. Yet, once I just focused on this book - well, I flew through it. I was honestly completely invested in every single person in this book.

I am still not okay with what went down. Seriously. This book had so many twists in it that
Ayo Odun
Dec 03, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: queer, queer-sff, fantasy
This book looks pretty cool con artists? Crime lords? The skallywags of society coming together to save the day? Sign me up!

EDIT: I’ve said my piece

TL;DR this is an Adult book So please take this book off your YA shelves people.
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
The Mask of Mirrors is a politically-driven fantasy full of twists and turns that might appeal to fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora. Intricate world-building, two intersecting magic systems, and dangerous plots come together in this epic narrative.

It is multi-pov, but the primary character is a lady con artist named Ren on a mission to worm her way into an elite family in the city of Nadezra. Other characters range from the privileged elite to crime lords of the underworld, and even a notorious v
Kirsty Hendry
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ren has come to the city of Nadezra, along with her sister, with the intention of pulling off their biggest con yet. This con will set them up with money and security for the rest of their lives.

After tricking her way into the noble House Traementis under the guise of a long lost relative, Ren will discover that she is not the only one wearing a mask.

Meanwhile, children are going missing from Nadez
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, favorites
I hope this is an indicator of what's to come for fantasy in 2021 because I had so much fun with this book, absolutely loved it!

Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

The Mask of Mirrors was one of the first 2021 fantasy releases that I read, and it is giving me some high hopes that this is going to be an amazing year of fantasy releases. This is the first book in a new fantasy series and it has completely captivated me with it's strong world-building, expansive and developed cast of c
Holly (The GrimDragon)
“Vargo didn’t often live in his body. He’d grown up thinking bodies were for pain–inflicting; receiving–a belief that lingered even though pain was rarely a concern for him anymore. These days, he mostly thought of his body as a tool. He spent the majority of his time in his head, where he was unassailable, calculating how everything around him could be used.

But he recognized the appeal of the physical. And sometimes he wanted the slap of flesh against flesh, the grind of hips and the slickness
As much as I wanted to love The Mask of Mirrors, and as much as I really liked pieces of it, I'm afraid it has to go down as my first disappointment of the year. Make no mistake, Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, writing as M.A. Carrick, have written a beautiful book, full of sumptuous details, complete with fascinating characters, but there's just so much of it all that it becomes overwhelming.

Every character who crosses the page has a name, and never just one, but first names, last names, family n
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
2.5 stars

Con artists, nobility, and crime lords are the main factions in this novel, delivering a collectively intricate plot reminiscent of a fantastical Venetian opera. With ten houses of the nobility and their main characters raging political intrigue - over 20 additional characters will mix into this multifaceted, dynamic plot and keep the reader on their toes.

Arenza Lenskaya, aka Ren, aka Renata Viraudax, was raised in the slums of Nadezra and is learning to gain acceptance into the House T
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ren fled Nadežra as a child with her sister in tow after her brother was beaten to death in front of her by the leader of the group of child thieves that she was part of. Now as an adult, Ren and her sister Tess are back with a plan to con a noble family and ease themselves into a life of wealth and security. But Nadežra isn't a place anyone goes for security, with bitter enmities between noble families, nobles and poorer folk and a simmering current of racial tension as well.

The author is a pen
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-arcs, lgbtq-read
Omg this book was so good!! It took me a while to read it and get through those 672 pages but I'm not mad about it because I got even more attached to these characters and the plot.

The Mask of Mirrors follows Ren, a con-artist who murdered the leader of her knot after she killed Ren's brother. With her sister Tess, Ren runs away to try another job, one that could let her be part of the nobility if she succeeds and be able to enjoy the benefits of such a position. But for that, she'll have to be
Apr 13, 2020 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
Ooh, Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms writing an awesome-sounding epic fantasy under a pen name re: 'It has fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles, and we’re only sorry we didn’t manage to get a giant in there; maybe we can make somebody really tall during editorial revisions? Also the kind of worldbuilding that happens when you let two anthropologists off their leashes. It has a con artist, a vigilante, and capers as flirtation. It has normalized que ...more
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf-for-adults
This was a really fun fantasy intrigue set in what felt like an alt-historical Venice and starring SO MANY fantastic women on various sides of shifting allegiances, disguises and secrets. I loved the richness and complexity of the setting, the magic, and the details (including utterly gorgeous dressmaking descriptions) and I really enjoyed all of the characters. Honestly, the only reason it's not a 5-star read for me is that I wished (subjectively and only because it's my own personal reading pr ...more
Bertie (LuminosityLibrary)
The Mask of Mirrors is filled with political intrigue, deception, and a wonderfully detailed world. It should have been everything I love in a book. However, with so many characters, places, and conflicts, I found it difficult to hold onto the threads. Nothing felt explained enough, I kept losing track of the plots and characters, and after finishing I couldn't say much of what happened in the plot or world. I often read detailed fantasy with large casts, so I was surprised to have felt this way ...more
Lezlie with The Nerdy Narrative
Here's what I think:

This might just be my favorite read of 2021. It is most assuredly my favorite debut novel of the year!

I do mention a few more details in my Weekly Wrap Up if you're interested:
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.
I straight up loved this book from M.A. Carrick (a collaboration of Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms) from the opening pages through to its many-pages later conclusion. The world is complicated, with Nadežra, the country where the story’s action takes place, containing numerous cultures and peoples, with descendants of the conquering Liganti in power, represented by several wealthy families with wide-ranging mercantile and martial interests. The original people, the Vraszenians, form the l
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
Check out this review and more at The Alliterates


The intricate clothing, szorsas reading a noble’s future, and a dark hood seeking justice in a world of corrupt politics had me obsessed and cutting my teeth on the pages. The pages turned. One hundred. Two hundred. Then every word felt like a brick that I needed to lift. Everything became exhausting despite my initial enthusiasm. That hope for a glittering debut disappeared along with any desire to read.

The Mask of Mirrors recalls that golden ag
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I’m a big fan of Marie Brennan and I’ve always wanted to read Alyc Helms, so when I found out about their collaboration on The Mask of Mirrors in which they would be writing together under the joint pen name of M.A. Carrick, I had some pretty high hopes. Hopes that weren’t completely realized, as it turned out—and I’ll go into them a bit later—but it also wasn’t a total loss, as there were certain aspects I thoroughly enjo
Bookish Selkie
Once a street child, now returning to the city for her revenge, Ren begins to con a very wealthy and noble family. At least, that’s the plan. As she learns the family secrets, Ren finds her beliefs and ideas challenged. With danger approaching from all sides, Ren must choose how far she will go to run the con. This is the type of story where I don’t wish to say too much, I’d rather just hand you the book itself! Reminiscent of Tamora Pierce, the world-building is beautifully crafted and compelli ...more
Adah Udechukwu
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Mask of Mirrors was good but not good enough. The length of the novel was it's undoing. It wasn't amusing at all. I felt that the novel was kinda dragged out. ...more
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

Review: 5 Stars

Lately I’ve really been in the mood for epic fantasy, so I decided to give The Mask of Mirrors a shot. When I first heard about this book I was pretty excited because the main character is a thief attempting a long con. The premise sounded intriguing but initially I was intimidated by the fact that this book is nearly 700 pages. Luckily I found this story pretty easy to sink into and wound up enjoying every
Feb 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Very complex and well-created world with lot of cunning and power machinations. But it's not for everyone. For me it was much too slow at times, and I felt like the novel dragged. I can understand why people love it though. ...more
See more book reviews and thoughts on my YouTube channel

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.

The Mask of Mirrors is a book that seemed like it had my name written all over it: a female con artist worming her way into a wealthy noble family, a magical sickness plaguing the city, and more politics than you can shake a stick at. Despite the fact that there were some fantastic things about this book, I was left feeling a litt
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M.A. Carrick is the joint pen name of Marie Brennan(author of the Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of the Adventures of Mr. Mystic). The two met in 2000 on an archaeological dig in Wales and Ireland — including a stint in the town of Carrickmacross — and have built their friendship through two decades of anthropology, writing, and gaming. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area. ...more

Other books in the series

Rook & Rose (2 books)
  • The Liar’s Knot (Rook & Rose, #2)

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