Wednesday 5 June 2024

Book Review: Masquerade by Mike Fu (Literary Fiction)

Mike Fu
Tin House
29 October 2024
eBook - PDF
Literary Fiction
ARC via Edelweiss

Set between New York and Shanghai, Masquerade is a queer coming-of-age mystery about a lovelorn bartender and his complex friendship with a volatile artist.

Newly single Meadow Liu is house-sitting for his friend, artist Selma Shimizu, when he stumbles upon The Masquerade, a translated novel about a masked ball in 1930s Shanghai. The author’s name is the same as Meadow’s own in Chinese, Liu Tian—a coincidence that proves to be the first of many strange happenings. Over the course of a single summer, Meadow must contend with a possibly haunted apartment, a mirror that plays tricks, a stranger speaking in riddles at the bar where he works, as well as a startling revelation about a former lover. And when Selma vanishes from her artist residency, Meadow is forced to question everything he knows as the boundaries between real and imagined begin to blur. Exploring social, cultural, and sexual identities in New York, Shanghai, and beyond, Mike Fu’s Masquerade is a skillfully layered, brilliantly interwoven debut novel of friendship, queer longing, and worlds on the brink, asking how we can find ourselves among ghosts of all kinds, and who we can trust when nothing—and no one—is as it seems.


Masquerade started strong. I was interested in Meadow and his situation, and in the tale being told through the mysterious book he finds. The themes in the book were explored in a fascinating manner and I loved the ethereal, mysterious nature of the story. However, my attention wavered a bit in the latter part of the book, and when it ended, I felt there were questions I still wanted answered, the lack of those answers making it feel a tad unfinished; although, I acknowledge that may have been a conscious choice by the author: to leave things open and up to the reader's interpretation. I am giving this book four stars. I liked a lot about it, but I couldn't help but feel something was lacking at the end. I recommend it to fans of literary fiction that includes elements of magical realism and mystery. I would check out other works by this author in the future.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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