Genre: Historical Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: Cassandra Palmer #4.3
Publication Date: April 1st 2014
Page Count: 406
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Buy Link: AMAZON
Synopsis: Fifteenth century Venice is a safe haven for the masterless dregs of the vampire world, a city where they can live without the fear of retribution for violating another’s territory.
Still, there are plenty of ways for a young vampire to die in the glittering city, a lesson that prince turned pauper Mircea Basarab must learn quickly. But there are opportunities, too—in the service of a secretive courtesan, in the bed of a beautiful senator, and in the hunt for an ancient assassin.
As a vendetta older than Venice itself comes to a climax, Mircea struggles to evade the dangers of his current life, to come to terms with his past, and to uncover the truth hidden behind a city of masks…
A whole book from Mircea's POV? *le sigh* Is there a more dignified, refined, sophisticated man on the face of the fictional planet? I think not. And even here, in his humble vampiric beginnings, during the rags phase of his riches-to-rags-and-back-to-riches-again story, he was still the Mircea we know and love. Yay!
MASKS is kind of everything you're thinking it's going to be, and a bit more besides. Yes, I missed the mad-cap narration of my girl Cassie. Yes, I missed all the regular Cassandra Palmer World peeps. But Mircea is, in my opinion, Chance's most well-crafted creation. I would never accuse an author of playing favourites - I mean, my goodness, it would be like picking your favourite kid, surely - but if the time and effort spent establishing a character is any indication of favour, then... he's totally hers!
So what is MASKS about? Well, it's set 2 years after Mircea was cursed with vampirism. Long enough for him to get a grip on his initial uncontrolable urges, but not long enough to establish any kind of position within the vampire world. As a masterless vampire, Mircea is easy pickings for anyone in search of a new plaything. So he, and his trusty, still-currently-human tutor, Horatiu, head to Venice, a supposedly "free" area and haven for masterless or abandoned young vamps. Or that's what is says on the brochure, anyway. Unfortunately for Mircea, it seems they used a fair bit of poetic license with that word "free"...
You may notice the page count here. 400-some pages. This is most certainly not novella length or novella-like in its plotting. It's well-crafted and exciting, just like all KC's other books. It does have a completely different tone, thanks to it being from Mircea's POV, but I really feel like, having read, it, I understand his character, and also his relationship with the consul, a whole lot better. So it's absolutely worth a read for that sneak peak alone. And aside from that, it's just a good read. I suppose it could be read as a stand alone, but I'm not sure I would recommend it. Better for fans of the series to use it to meet the "real Mircea", than for new readers to try and sample the Cassandra Palmer series via this entry, because, like I said, the tone is so completely different from all the other books, it wouldn't be a good indicator of what's to come.
A suave and elegant 4 Stars ★★★★
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.