PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE BONE SEASON SERIES. HOWEVER, IT WILL NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE MASK FALLING. If you haven’t read the series up to this book yet, you may want to return to this page at a later date!
ALSO CW for graphic violence, torture and mentions of drug addiction
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…
Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ahh, I am so excited to see a copy of this novel in my hands. I do have to say before launching into the review itself that I really love the cover design, and the colours used in it. And also that I’ve waited so long to read this, and I was super excited to get the chance to read it early! I’m quite pleased that I got to buddy read this with my friends, Nikki and Lis who really helped to motivate me reading this. The Mask Falling is a pretty hefty book, and it was helpful to have daily goals to reach so I didn’t fall behind.
I’ll start by saying that this book is super dark. Anyone who may have read The Dawn Chorus novella likely knows exactly what I’m talking about here, but the book is very much centred around Paige coming to terms with the traumatic events of the last novel, and about how that trauma impacts on her position as the figurehead of the fight against Scion. I really liked that Shannon examined this side of Paige in great detail, and that it felt like the impact on Paige was actually addressed. It’s something I see quite often in fiction, where major trauma and upheaval are an issue for a handful of pages and then they’re no longer a thing. I think it was refreshing to see a novel really delve into the physical and psychological impact on a character were not just a trivial plot device, but were actually part of an ongoing journey towards recovery. While it got very heavy and uncomfortable at some moments, it didn’t feel like any of these scenes were included just for shock value either, and I totally love Samantha Shannon for handling such a difficult and painful subject matter with delicacy and empathy.
That being said, there were some moments in the book where Paige’s character annoyed the heck out of me, and I know my friends felt frustrated at the same scenes. Paige has always been a touch daring, and she often throws herself into her plans without real concern for her safety. At the same time, she comes across as quite calculating, and while she seems willing to risk her own neck for her missions, there’s never been a sense that she does it without purpose. I guess what I’m trying to say is that she’s often bold with her plans, but rarely completely reckless. I had wondered, given the consequences of her sacrifice in The Song Rising, whether or not she would be a bit more hesitant to put herself and the people around her into dangerous situations. I will say that she does think about it, pretty frequently, but there are definite moments where she seems to be very reckless, and does things without seeming to think about them too much. It seemed a bit out of character for Paige, although Shannon has proven herself to be a brilliant writer on so many occasions, that I’m willing to give her series the benefit of the doubt here, because I wonder if there’s more going on that the reader can’t see yet. Anyway, I’m holding out hope on this front.
That benefit of the doubt also includes the very confusing moment towards the end of the book. I can’t give away too much as it is absolutely a spoiler, but there’s a moment when Paige overlooks something very obvious, that hints towards another character’s motivations. Again, I think there’s some aspects of this un-Paige like behaviour that make a certain amount of sense, especially given the lingering trauma she faces.
As ever, the descriptions in this book are beautiful. While Scion London will always be an amazing setting, and I loved seeing the Mime Order, I did appreciate getting to see a whole new setting unfold throughout this book. One of the brilliant things Shannon does so well as an author is the attention to research and the weaving of knowledge into her writing. I was fascinated by the Court of Miracles and the underground world of Paris, and the glimpses of Parisian landmarks that we’re given in the novel. The book really brings Paris to life, and the setting acted almost like a whole extra character in the background. Even though I really hold out hope that we might one day get to see Paige returning to Ireland, this adventure in Paris was rich and exciting. My favourite scene of all was a brilliantly choreographed fight in a very famous building. Again, I can’t say too much, but Shannon really knew how to bring out the dramatic elements of that fight by using the setting to play up the tension. So so good.
The new characters are also well developed and I feel like they’ll add a lot as the series goes on. I can’t wait to learn more about government in Paris, as well as the Court of Miracles and the part they might play. What’s great is that the reader is frequently made to feel like Paige, constantly questioning the intentions and trustworthiness of the people she’s working with, or even her enemies from time to time. Shannon doesn’t pull any punches here, and the politicking behind a lot of the motivations in the book is deliciously complex, leading to a lot of tension and twists and turns in the plot.
There are some moments when I thought The Mask Falling fell a bit short of my high expectations. As I said before, this book is chunky, and there were plot points in there which felt a bit unnecessary. Again, I can’t say much owing to spoilers, but the same plot goal happens several times throughout the book, and it just felt quite back and forth by the end and a little bit predictable on that front. Which was a shame because, as I mentioned, the characters were so complex, and I didn’t know who Paige should trust, and that could have been even more exciting if the plot hadn’t been quite so easy to guess in places.
Overall, I’d give The Mask Falling an 8.5/10. I think it is another great entry into a phenomenally brilliant series, and it has definitely increased my excitement for the next instalment. And I thought Shannon did a great job of exploring a whole new city and bringing it to life as well as introducing some characters that I’m dying to see make an appearance in the next book. There were a few moments that fell a bit short of my expectations, and which felt frustrating, mostly because Paige (and other characters) behaved in ways that felt out of character and it seemed like some choices were made to advance the plot, rather than because they fit with what the characters would have done. It didn’t ruin the book for me (obviously, I loved it) but I do hope that the next novel is a little bit more nuanced with that, and perhaps delves even deeper into characters’ motivations for their actions.
Has anyone else read this book already or plans to? What do you all think of it? Let me know in the comment section down below