Book Review: THE MASK FALLING by Samantha Shannon

Title in gold on black next to stain-glass window-like rose in yellows
Genre: Fantasy/Epic Dystopia
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: Yes - book 4/7
CW: PTSD from torture (including waterboarding)

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE BONE SEASON, THE MIME ORDER, and THE SONG RISING*

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE MASK FALLING: title in black in front of a yellow concentric flower design

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.

As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them… 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

THE MASK FALLING is a triumphant return to the world of THE BONE SEASON. After a four year gap since the last book (and aren’t I glad I only started reading this series in 2019, lol), Paige returns and Samantha Shannon takes us to Scion Paris.

It is a fast paced and full of twists and turns. There is so much packed into this book – action and quiet moments – as well as a whole new city to explore. I gulped this book down, hooked by the action and intrigue, unsure how it would all play out.

The French Inquisitor (Menard) is such a good character, and after hearing a lot about him behind the scenes in previous books, it was so fun to see him in person – have him and Paige interact. This is the book where you can really see how big the world and story is, so many little hints trickling through and building up as clues slot into place – and then you realise just how much more there is to come.

I really appreciated the time taken to acknowledge and engage with the fact that Paige does have sever PTSD after everything she’s been through. She isn’t magically well, but physically weak and dealing with the mental and emotional consequences.

I was lucky enough to attend one of the launch event, and Samantha Shannon mentioned that writing PRIORY in third person had allowed her to unlock a deeper descriptive side to Paige. Having just read all THE BONE SEASON instalments back to back (which, I have to say, I enjoyed the earlier books much more in this the 2nd or 3rd read!), I can really see what she meant. The descriptions are still sparse in this book, being in keeping with Paige’s voice, but they are written with gorgeous turns of phrase. They are particularly good when it comes to describing light – there is a very lyrical quality to those.

I have one comment on this book that I have to word vaguely for spoilers. But there is a chapter that has particularly been asked (by the author) for people not to share spoilers for. The spoiler-y thing was the one bit that felt overdone in this book for me – overdone and unlikely. Which made Paige’s reaction and emotions in the following chapters until the second half of the revelation seem like she was missing the obvious. The approach I’m taking is that it’s the affects of everything she’s been through – particularly Jaxon and Suhail in THE SONG RISING – that makes her react that way.

Bring on the next book! I can’t wait to see what locale we go to next. Bulgaria? Athens? Sweden? Into war-torn Spain and Portugal? All these places seem to have been set up over the last few books, so maybe?


Read my reviews of other books by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (this series):

Standalones:

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