Review: Masks by Karen Chance

masksReviewed by Jen

For fans of the Cassie Palmer series, Masks is a chance to learn more about one of the series’ more enigmatic characters, Mircea Basaraab. As a reader who is 100% Team Pritkin, I had hoped this book would make me a bit more sympathetic toward him. (After all, in the Cassie books, he is smooth, polished and manipulative.) And yes, on some level, it did help me understand him better. But overall, this book didn’t have the magic that Cassie series holds for me. In fact, I struggled to make it through to the end.

This is a prequel that takes us back to the years immediately following Mircea’s change into a vampire. He’s captured, sold as a slave, and then turned into a whore. It’s a difficult transition for a man who lived his life as a warlord and a prince. To make an incredibly long story short, all the vampire rulers are in Venice as he starts working in the brothel. He catches the eye of a powerful female senator who, at the same time, ends up in a life and death power struggle with the ruling consul. Mircea finds himself at the center of the intrigue, just as he comes to terms with his new life as baby vamp with minimal strength and no political power.

This was originally intended to be a novella and, perhaps, it would have been better if it stayed that way. I felt like the story was bloated with too much narrative and uneven pacing. Some parts were so slow and boring, I had to fight myself not to skip ahead to the next bit of dialogue. (It happened a lot.) I also had to struggle to give a damn about what was happening. There were just so many characters, each of whom was just too superficial to truly gain my attention.

We do see evolution in Mircea’s character. There are changes for him, but they follow the path you would predict for a fallen prince in need of some humility and perspective in the bigger picture. (And by the way, there was sex, but no romance.) Overall, I was… underwhelmed. Hardcore Mircea fans may enjoy it, but for me, this one fell flat.

Rating: C/C-

*ARC Provided by Penguin

Click to purchase: Amazon

by Karen Chance
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Penguin

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