January 11, 2021

Book Review: The Mask Falling (+ Novella Review: The Dawn Chorus)

(Please note that I will be talking about books 3.5 and 4 in The Bone Season series. At this point, spoilers for previous books will be unavoidable. If you’ve never read the series, check out my review of The Bone Season instead.)

In the novella The Dawn Chorus, Samantha Shannon invites readers to join Paige Mahoney and Arcturus Mesarthim as Paige heals from her ordeal and the pair await further instructions from their benefactors in a Parisian safe house. Arcturus and Paige are slowly reconnecting after an extended separation, and this tentative new beginning has many parallels to the start of their relationship years ago. While this novella is simply a series of scenes strung together, it tugged at my heartstrings. I have made my love and admiration for Paige Mahoney clear, and the additional insight to her character was very welcome. It’s also obvious that I’ve always enjoyed the relationship Arcturus & Paige share, and this novella fills the craving many readers have had for more page time with the two of them together. I soaked up this novella, with its heartbreaking and heartwarming moments alike, and it served as the perfect segue into the next novel of the series.

The Dawn Chorus (The Bone Season #3.5) was released July 9, 2020.
Add it on Goodreads | Buy the novella (it's only available digitally!)

Fans of The Bone Season series, myself included, have been waiting since 2017 (nearly four years!) for the release of the fourth book in the series, The Mask Falling. And 2021 is the year that we are finally getting this new installment – and it was worth the wait! As you might infer from the previous paragraph, The Mask Falling takes place in the Scion Citadel of Paris. Paige Mahoney and Arcturus Mesarthim are confined to a safe house by the still mysterious Domino Programme until Paige heals up enough to be given an assignment. But Paige, as usual, has her own goals in mind. Together, the pair will embark on an adventure that takes them everywhere from the luxurious political world of the Parisian government to the grittier Parisian underworld. Faced with foes and friends old and new, Paige will have to confront old demons and new revelations that just might change everything yet again.

Truthfully, I’d initially harbored concerns that Samantha Shannon’s writing sensibility and style would have changed so completely that I’d feel put off on the series. But I need not have worried! The book fits in perfectly with the already existing body of work, as the storytelling style and overall series vibe is maintained. Shannon balances the cohesion with the rest of the series along with the new writing prowess she’s gained since the last book in the series was released, and that’s really a testament to her skill as a writer.

The series follows a pattern where each book just adds to this fantastical story that Shannon has crafted, opening up the story and the world just a little bit more than before. We travel to new locations (and in The Mask Falling, the location is Paris). We learn new things about the world, including more about clairvoyance, the rebellion, the Rephaim and government of Scion. We meet interesting new characters and we learn more about characters we’ve encountered before. Even though I do love having a grasp on the series (and I think I’m pretty solid on the basic facts of this one), it’s so cool to keep finding that there is more to be uncovered and unveiled. I’m definitely expecting that the remaining books in the series will continue to have twists and revelations that surprise me!

As for the experience of devouring The Mask Falling, I’m honestly having a hard time putting it into words. (You can refer to this thread, and specifically this tweet, for some idea of what I went through.) The novel was equal parts stressful, frustrating, exhilarating, and wonderful, and it’s one of the most intense reading experiences I’ve had in some time. I was really immersed in the ups and downs, the twists and turns and in betweens of the latest chapter in Paige’s story. I laughed. I smirked. I yelled. I got mad. I teared up. I was stunned speechless. It was seriously such a rollercoaster ride of a read, and I was there for every single minute of it.

It would be remiss not to mention how much I enjoyed being reunited with Paige. I’ve always admired her, as she’s capable, tough, brave, smart, loyal and, above all, willing to do whatever it takes to do the right thing. She’s not perfect, as she does have a temper, a reckless, impulsive streak and pushes herself far past her limits almost all the time. And she certainly struggles with choices she’s made, the consequences of said choices and, in this novel, her PTSD from her capture and torture. She’s such a complex individual, and her circumstances and experiences continue to shape her. I love her so much, including all her strengths and flaws (even if I mentally scream at a lot of her choices), and I’m so honored that I get to continue watching her grow as the series goes on.

Quick shoutout to the incredible and vast cast of secondary characters that Shannon has brought to life! Not only do we get to cross paths with a few familiar faces, we also have a bunch of new ones that provide even more color and detail to an already vivid story. I also need to take a moment to appreciate the wonder that is Arcturus Mesarthim, who has so many incredible moments on page in this installment and who I love even more than before.

To sum it all up, The Mask Falling was incredible! It takes the foundations of this world and the characters we know and love, places them in a brand-new setting and wraps it all up with an action-packed plot. I absolutely loved this new addition to The Bone Season series, and I know many other fans of the series are going to love it too!

The Mask Falling (The Bone Season #4) will be released January 26, 2021.


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