Series: Rise of the Masks #1
Published by Createspace on May 17th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Mel can sense the blood beating through her companions’ veins. She can count the moments between heartbeats to tell who is sincere and who is lying. She can make herself stronger for short periods of time, heal small wounds on her body, and manipulate light to change her appearance subtly. These abilities are useful skills for a Mask—a preternaturally sensitive, cloaked and imposing, impartial arbitrator, both revered and feared by everyone.
Mattieus Ottick, or just Ott to his friends, comes from the frozen north to hunt the strange ogre-like creatures, or trogs, that threaten the northern mines. Magical beasties? Nightmares come to life? The world as Ott knows it is about to change. Blessed by easy charm and good looks, Ott is used to the attention of females, but, gods above, he is knocked flat by the kiss of the ethereal woman he rescues. How could she possibly be a Mask?
Rated approximately PG-13 for fantasy violence and some smooching.
I received a copy of this book in audio format from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
Mel is part of society group called Masks. They have unique abilities to analyze persons and situations, and their services are usually required to arbitrate in any conflict. But Mel is different from the rest of Masks, since she is also impetuous and really does not fit within the rest. Mel and her parents are required to travel north to resolve a conflict between a new race called trogs and the locals of a little town.
I think the premises of this book were brilliant. I liked the idea of a sector of the society with special abilities to play judges and how it would affect somebody which did not completely fit into this scheme. Sadly I missed some more character development. Mel was different but I think Kaplan could have transmitted better what Mel was up against. A consequence of plain characters are forced actions and conversations, and we also see a lot of this in this book. Without mentioning how Mel and Ott met. Even fifteen years younger I would not have fallen for that (I hope). In the middle of some dare situation they meet and suddenly fall in love. Okay, I would accept love at first sight, but I would not expect much from it months after. I do not mind romance in books, but I need it to be justified and it has to feel natural. The sudden urge Mel felt is not explained nor analyzed.
The story about the trogs was also very interesting, but I missed some more information about it. Who where they really? There is a hypothesis about it but when I expected more information the book just finished. There is also something going on with Ott, which left me wanting to know more. I guess we will get that information in future books.
This book is part of a series, which is why I guess there is still some information not delivered to the listener, but it is a book which stands well on its own and does not end on a massive cliffhanger, something I appreciate.
There was something that bothered me a bit, and it was how the information was delivered to the listener. At the beginning of the book, especially, there was a sudden ton of information. I found it distracting, and this and the inability to connect to the characters prevented me from fully enjoying the book.
Even though the main characters are in their twenties, I would classify this book as Young Adult due to how romance is approached.
What I truly enjoyed was T.J. Richards’ narration. She did a wonderful job transmitting the characters emotions and making subtle voice changes depending on the character. It was very very subtle, but it was very clear at all times who was talking. She has a soft and clear voice, and the audio production was spotless. I will be on the watch for T.J. Richards from now on!
Available at Amazon/Audible