Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Shadows (Masks of Aygrima #2) by E.C. Blake

Release Date: August 5, 2014
Published by: DAW Hardcover
Source: Provided by publisher
Author Links: Website | Twitter

In Masks, Mara Holdfast's life changed forever. As the daughter of the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker, she had a clearly defined future: a quiet, ordered life in the capital, making Masks with her father and doing work important to the ruling Autarch. But when her Mask, specially made by her own father, cracked and fell to pieces during her Masking ceremony, Mara was exiled from everything she once knew. Soon, she becomes part of an underground rebellion, rejecting the unjust rules of a Masked society and uncovering a horrifying plot of mind control over the entire population of the empire.

In a moment of crisis, Mara finds herself possessed of a volatile magical power that neither she nor any of her allies can truly control. In Shadow, Mara faces terrifying new challenges and dangers as she struggles to understand her unprecedented ability to use all types of magic—and to tear magic from the living bodies of those around her. With the arrival of Chell, a young man from across the sea, the world beyond the borders of the Autarchy of Aygrima begins to make itself felt. Then an act of brutality tips Mara dangerously close to madness…and in the midst of a desperate and bloody battle, she discovers just how horrifying her power can be…

Unlike its predecessor, Shadows had a slow beginning. It wasn't until Chapter 7, about 60+ pages or so, that I found myself really absorbed in the story. This may be to blame on the introduction of a strange young man that Mara discovers along the shore. A lot of the focus in the beginning is on this boy and, of course, Keltan and Hyram's hostility toward him. Since my interest is in Mara and her developing powers, this part of the story line just couldn't hold my attention. But after this little hiccup, the remainder of Shadows was gold.

Once the pace picked up and Mara's visit to her father created a very interesting change of events, I devoured this story. I was hanging on to every word, fascinated by Mara's predicament with the Autarch and the darkness that threatened to consume her. There was plenty of deaths and gore and Mara's life continued to become more complicated. 

New alliances were formed, old alliances broken, and the love triangle that began in Masks found a resolution that the majority of readers will be pleased with. It seemed as if I reached the end of the story just as it was truly beginning and I can't wait to see where Mara's journey will take her next.

The Masks of Aygrima's dark magic, powerful young heroine, and group of rebels plotting to overthrow a tyrannical leader make this an addictive series that I would recommend to any fantasy fan.


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