Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.
When I first started Masks, I wondered if the author was trying to write another Nightrunner series (mentioned briefly here and here). It started out similarly in that the main character is a young spy apprenticed to the best spy in the land, who he admires a great deal, but that’s where the similarity ends. Mark, the main character comes across as more than a little spoiled, more than a lot traumatized by his horrible childhood, which features a dead mom, a missing dad, and a sexually abusive pedophile nobleman/benefactor. I was ready for 324 pages of gilded cage broken boy drama, which I was not looking forward to. Fortunately the plot takes an amazingly sudden and refreshing left turn a third of the way in.
From there things move quickly as Mark goes on quite the journey of discovery. He sets off on a harrowing trek over land and sea, makes fast friends, finds a lover, picks a side (or at lest seems to), and for all intents and purposes, becomes a man. By the end of this, the first book in a trilogy, I liked all the players. Their mission is both noble and daunting, and my interest was piqued. I like especially one of the female characters, whom I hope I will get to become an amazing heroine in her own right.
It does have a bit of that “oh, I can’t love you, what will my DAD say?” bullshit that some gay romances tend to throw in to increase the tension, as well as some part of the tone being set by a fundamental lack of communication. Fortunately for this book, the lack of communication is at least understandable and drives emotional turmoil and not the plot itself.
I have books two and three in my sights for the future. Especially since they’re each only $4.99.
3.5 stars out of 5