Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Book Review: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

Title: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
Author: Curtis Craddock
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: 29 August 2017
Pages: 416
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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A polymath princess and her faithful musketeer must unravel the plot of a thousand-year-old madman in order to save an a foreign kingdom from a disastrous civil war.

Caelum is an uninhabitable gas giant like Jupiter. High above it are the Risen Kingdoms, occupying flying continents called cratons. Remnants of a shattered world, these vast disks of soaring stone may be a thousand miles across. Suspended by magic, they float in the upper layers of Caelum's clouds.

Born with a deformed hand and utter lack of the family's blood magic, Isabelle is despised by her cruel father. She is happy to be neglected so she can secretly pursue her illicit passion for math and science. Then, a surprising offer of an arranged royal marriage blows her life wide open and launches her and Jeane-Claude on an adventure that will take them from the Isle des Zephyrs in l'Empire Céleste to the very different Kingdom of Aragoth, where magic deals not with blood, but with mirrors.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors has a lot going for it: a well-presented quasi-historical setting, steampunk elements, a dashing hero, a courageous heroine. The plot and characters caught and held my attention throughout, and the pacing was generally well handled, keeping me turning the pages late into the night. The book throws the reader straight into the world of the story; however, careful world building takes place as events progress, gradually painting a full and colourful picture. The only major thing that stood out as a negative for me was the ending, as I found the proposed future romance forced and confusing in light of the future against which the characters had been fighting throughout the entire story. Despite that, this was still a most enjoyable read sure to please fans of steampunk-inspired fantasy.

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