by M.A. Carrick
Publication: December 7, 2021
Series: Rook & Rose #2
**I received a digital copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Luck and fortune finally return to House Traementis after multiple tragedies. Ren’s deceptions have finally paid off with her adoption into the noble house, but there is a long road ahead to molding Traementis back into the house it once was. As applications and adoptions into House Traementis commence, high society continues with its machinations. Will it be friends or foes? Will it be the face or the mask?
After a nearly year-long wait, I was more than ready to dive back into Nadezra. I was thankful for the helpful recap in the beginning but still took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the ending of Mask of Mirrors. Yes, it was still as good as I remember. Reviewing was helpful because there were so many noble houses and characters that I needed reminders beyond the recap.
Like Mask of Mirrors, The Liar’s Knot is a tome at over 600 pages; however, I didn’t feel it nor did I grow impatient for the end. This is partially attributed to the expectation it would start slow like the first book. This time the story moved at just the right pace. I was committed to the characters and too immersed in what was happening to heed how many more pages I had to go until it ended. By the time I finished, I wanted more.
Because much of the world-building happens in the first book, The Liar’s Knot needed to only zoom in on certain aspects of it rather than dedicate pages to introductions and explanations. The first half of Mask of Mirrors was interesting but required a lot of patience to get through. The story here was free to explore its central characters Grey, Ren, and Vargo. With a focus on characterization, at times it felt like lots of things were happening but also nothing at all. Characters just went about their daily lives with specific events highlighted–Ren at a party, Vargo in a meeting, Grey being a hawk, and so on. There lacked a sense of an overarching plot until it got closer to the end, and then the threads started coming together. This is also similar to how I felt about the first half of the first book. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing since I still enjoyed the book.
I found Grey’s arc to be the least interesting in comparison to Ren’s and Vargo’s arcs. It’s not that he is boring but there’s just not much to what he’s doing because he does nearly the same things. Ren finally reaps the rewards of her deception but struggles with juggling her many masks. Her successes require sacrifices that leave her ragged and questioning the price she’s paying to be part of House Traementis. While Ren remains my favorite character, it’s Vargo’s story that is the most interesting. There were a few moments I couldn’t pin down what he was going to do. Vargo remains ambitious and continues to be more than willing to use other people for his gain.
As their connections to each other evolve, it shines a light on how similar they are to one another. None are who they say they are, each hiding beneath masks to protect themselves yet desperately seeking someone to confide in, someone to trust. Their search for companionship leads them to each other, but before they can fully embrace the other they have to be willing to be vulnerable, to place their fate in the other’s hands. They’re too scared to be placed in this position, too scared to reveal the face and not the mask. While they use different means to achieve their ends, Grey, Ren, and Vargo are not so different from each other.
The Liar’s Knot was an immersive read, and I could barely put it down. Carrick created a world where mistrust and manipulation were rampant, forcing characters and me to second guess everyone’s intentions. Although characters just appeared to go about their daily lives, I enjoyed the book immensely. I cannot wait for the next book.