We love books. Love reading. Love stepping into and exploring the worlds other people have created. How far one can do so really depends on how successful the authors are in creating authentic environments for their characters to walk in. MA Carrick’s Nadežra, as experienced in The Mask of Mirrors, is one such world, more than magical, in every sense of the word.

The first part of the trilogy Rook & Rose, the book has elements of old school fantasy and fable, the streets in which protagonist Ren and her sister, Tess, run, richly evoked, full of light and shadow, good and evil.

It opens with flight, Ren and Tess escaping the clutches of the sadistic Ondrakja, who keeps the Fingers, street rats, in line through ‘terror-quiet’. Ren is a master con artist, who lives by her wits and guile in a world of masquerade, where everything is built on layers of deceit, intrigue and political manipulation. Her goal is simple, to secure her sister’s future, and the way to do that is to enter the aristocratic House of Traementis, but nothing is as it seems. Nadežra is in peril, dark magic lurking, threatening the new world Ren has entered and the one she so desperately wants to leave behind.

This is a wonderful book, full of twists and turns, with a host of layered and beguiling characters. The build-up is quite slow but there is a lot of detailed world building, something that Carrick, the nom de plume of writers Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, does well. It’s a big book, in the style of old school fantasies, huge in intention, rich in detail and, as result, very filmic.

A totally enjoyable read. Recommended.


The Mask of Mirrors | MA Carrick | Orbit | paperback | £8.99 | January 2021

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Acknowledgements: Acknowledgements: Many thanks lovely Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the invitation to/organising the tour and to the publisher,Orbit, for sending us a review copy and cover image. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other reviews on this tour.

Also of interest: The Stone Diaries’; ‘Alice Walker and the power of poetry‘; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Sylvia Plath on poetry‘; ‘WB Yeats, “The Journey of the Magi“‘; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is copyright © 2020 by The Literary Shed. All rights are reserved. All opinions expressed are our own. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please contact us for permission and provide the necessary credit. Thank you so much. We welcome your feedback.





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