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The Mask of Mirrors

(Rook & Rose #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  124 reviews
The Mask of Mirrors is the unmissable start to the Rook & Rose trilogy, a dazzling and darkly magical fantasy adventure by Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, writing together as M. A. Carrick.

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 a
Paperback, 672 pages
Expected publication: 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 novel features multiple PoVs, all of them close 3rd person. About half the story is from Ren's perspective (the con artist m…moreThank you for asking. The novel features multiple PoVs, all of them close 3rd person. About half the story is from Ren's perspective (the con artist main character), with the other half split between a few different characters, particularly Derossi Vargo (the crime lord) and Grey Serrado (the cop).(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  151 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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❀ 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.

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 political intrigues while trying to avoid suspicion and maintain her image of a wealthy young lady wanting to meet and conne
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!

... Now can someone please explain to me why it keeps get shelved as Young Adult? Damn just why??? This is an ADULT book for adults starring adults.

Is... is it because it's written by women? Because it has a diverse cast? Because hoo boy your minds would be blown wide open if i dropped this; adult books with diverse casts by women and other marginalised authors exist(and c
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
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 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
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
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
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Okay, this book was really good! It's so detailed, with a lot of worldbuilding and character development. There are all these families with various members, street gangs, countries with different beliefs and power structures. The authors really put a lot of time into making this book as fleshed out as possible and I enjoyed it.

The main character is Ren, a thieving orphan who is doing the biggest con of her life to become part of a wealthy family. It was so much fun to watch her become different
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After a slightly rocky start (the prologue feels too similar to the opening scene of The Name of the Wind), I am quickly sucked into this rich, immersive historical YA fantasy, and struggle to put it down.

The story follows Ren, an orphan who decides to con her way into a life of wealth and privilege but soon realises she may have bitten off more than she can chew. As she navigates many layers of politics, family feuds and soci
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley, arc, 2020
5/5 - AHHHHH VARGO!!!! My man!!! Why is competence so sexy. I really really loved this. Excellent mix up of heist and epic save-the-city with all the glitter and charm of a corrupt aristocracy belying a gritty criminal underbelly. Loved the use of fashion and would love to know what reference boars the authors were using to come up with these outfits. Worldbuilding was top tier, with conflicts between ethnic groups, complexity of both nobility and criminal groups really making the city come aliv ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cant-wait-2021
A delightful and exciting opening act to this new series, the half star docked for a personal small disappointment. It's an exhilarating story with the perfect trifecta of world-characters-plot.
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt, edelweiss
Oh, friends. I’ve been sitting on The Mask of Mirrors for a week after finishing because I needed some time to collect my thoughts. I think the best adjective I can apply to this novel is ‘acquired taste’. Those who will love it will LOVE it, but for 75% of the book, my own feelings were lukewarm at best. The good news? The steam this novel picks up in the end makes me incredibly curious to pick up the next book in the series despite my conflicted feelings about the series opener.

The core premis
Dude. This book is slow and confusing. Maybe I'll return to it but rn? No. I have other books to read and finish.


The Mask of Mirrors was a book that I was really, really jazzed to read.

But getting only 15% of the book on my kindle, I'm finding my attention and my desire to finish not as strong. Which is a shame because it seems like a colorful, vibrant world.

But that's all surface ... what about the story?

The story is very broad but it lacks details, world building, and, understanding. Th
Bookish Selkie
Review to come!
Ariel (ariel_reads)
Dec 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
3.5 rounded up to 4 stars. The Mask of Mirrors starts off in a similar manner as most political fantasy dramas. Secrets, lies, betrayals, traps, and wealth all motivate the characters in different ways. It takes about half the book for the chess pieces to be fully set up and established, and before any magic systems are actually introduced. The pace is a slow build, but the final half of the book felt very engaging. I liked the characters and I feel like there is a lot of potential for further b ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Here's my full review. Just two weeks until release!

I had great fun reading this one. The setting itself first drew me in with a Venetian-like city and Romani influences but this steadily progressed to an entire list of many other things that intrigued me as well.

There are clever con artists, masked vigilantes and dashing duelists. There are street gangs, clan leaders and conniving nobles. There are the simmering tensions between colonial powers ruling over oppressed native inhabitants. There a
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
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
*This arc was sent to me by the authors to give me an honest review in return*

This was a great high fantasy book. It's about Ren who is a con artist that goes to Nadezra to trick House Traementis to get her fortune and make sure her sister gets a good future. But corrupt magic begins in Nadezra with dangers and a con artist, vigilante, a crime lord must save their city. I enjoyed the writing of this book which had a great story plotline. I always enjoy books with two authors writing it together
This book has made it to my favorites list. The world-building was rich and detailed without any data-dumps that I could identify (pet peeve) ; instead, it was progressively revealed through character interaction (which can be a tad disorienting for some in the beginning until enough has been filled in to provide context for the rest of the story). The world location had a Venetian feel, with the intrigue of a noble court ruling over a conquered city that seems to be in decline. There is an unde ...more
May 21, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2021-releases
May 22, 2020: You can give me a woman con artist with a stunning mask and I'll come running towards it. AND there's going to be a mysterious swordsman too. Nice. The cover has just been revealed! ...more
michelle (magical reads)
dnf @ 30%

rep: wlw side characters

**I received an eARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**

This is really a me issue, but I dislike the fact that I've spent a week on this book and am 30% in and feel nothing for the characters or the plot or anything. The worldbuilding is cool because it's very detailed and clearly thought out. I might have been invested more in the characters had I finished the book, but I can't bring myself to keep rea
Isabella (Stubbornly Bookish)
E-ARC provided through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
*3.5 stars*

The Mask of Mirrors (out Jan 19, 2021) is a the start of a new trilogy from authors Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms. It is a multi perspective novel following mainly the attempts of Renata Viraudax, a con woman attempting to ingratiate herself with the cities elite and secure a large fortune. She soon discovers that she is not the only person with something to hide and finds herself embroiled w
Renee Babcock
I received a copy of this from Netgalley for a review. Thank you Netgalley!

This book started out as a great fantasy of manners. I will say up front I could tell the author put in a lot of work on the world building, and I want to recognize that. So much of the language of this world is foreign, but the author doesn't dumb it down for us. She assumes we understand it and context supplies what we need. So I am happy about that, because with this much world building, it could have been a lot more h
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
She glances in the mirror, the spark of her eyes hinting at the secrets she holds. The dress, in all its finery adds to the lies she conceals. The world has done her wrong and her life has held nothing but pain and heartbreak, but she’s about to take it all back. The largest con of her life is about to unfold. She grabs hold of the heavy material of her gown and turns to leave the room, the plan is in motion now.

Wow, what a journey this book took me on. A giant of a novel that had action with ev
Thank you to NetGalley and M.A. Carrick for the advanced copy. This is a voluntary review.

This started out strong, but quickly lost me around 250 pages in. There were so many concepts, complicated names, and secondary characters that weren’t introduced smoothly into the story so I often did not know who they were, mixed them up with others, or forgot what they were entirely. There was a lot of world building but it wasn’t explained well despite the level of detail. I was overwhelmed reading and
Judith Moore
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Must stop writing 'review to come' on these things.

I have a whole reading vlog on this book.

Overall this book was great, maybe a wee bit long (but I was reading on ebook so maybe that's a format thing. I loved the plot, I loved the characters (Ren is great) I thought I guessed a twist but I hadn't! All good things. I'll try and write up something more coherent closer to pub date.

Review copy provided for free by publisher.
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story pulls you right in and keeps you deep in its story! So much packed in this story - I am still reeling and processing. Incredible characters AND story. I made the mistake of starting this before bed. Absolutely devoured it in two sittings and am looking forward to a sequel. Wow, would recommend.
Nov 08, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: sff
So I probably shouldn’t be adding this because I still haven’t read Natural History of Dragons ... but, look at the cover

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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

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