Unmasked (Rise of the Masks Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 377 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Instead, she pushes you off a cliff and wishes you luck as you plummet head first into this action-packed story of a young woman named Mel who is desperately trying to find her place in the world that Kaplan has so artfully created.
The action starts right on Page One when Mel, who is in training to become a Mask, is kidnapped by a hulking, vaguely humanoid monster and carried pell mell through the woods toward an uncertain fate before she is rescued by a woodsman. From that point to the end of the novel the action never lets up and, for me, that's a good thing. The reason: In my experience too many fantasy authors spend too much time setting scenes and building worlds rather than just getting on with the story. Make no mistake, Kaplan has built an impressive world full of mysterious - and often misunderstood - characters but she does so in the context of the story, often while her protagonists are fighting for their lives. She doesn't waste chapters waxing poetic about the sun and stars: She does not, in other words, pause her narrative so she can dump a ton of information on the reader before moving on. As a result, the narrative maintains its headlong momentum allowing us, as readers, to learn about the world that Mel inhabits as she and the other characters make their way through it.
The characters are appealing, each in their own way. Mel is, for example, the daughter of a man and woman who are Masks - the mysterious arbiters of disputes and healers of the sick. She is also, however, a highly emotional young woman born into a culture in which people do their best to shun their feelings so they can better act as mediators. Ott, the woodsman who almost inadvertently rescues her, is the best friend of a man who will one day rule the far northern land where they both live. Together, they have spent weeks chasing the monster that later kidnaps Mel so they can wreak vengeance on it for the slaughter of some miners. Ott's friend Rob is the son of a manipulative and, ultimately, cruel ruler who has grown old, sick and - if possible - even more bitter. Jenny, Ott's sister and the object of Rob's unspoken affection, is trying to raise three children alone in the cold north.
And then there are the Trogs.
Are they monsters?
They certainly look and often act like they are but, at their core, are they actually something else?
Although it is a fantasy/adventure novel, "Unmasked" is more than simply that. It is also a romance and a coming-of-age story. We see some of Kaplan's young male and female characters fall in love - often with unexpected consequences - as they move through the pages of this novel. We also see them grow as they experience joy, betrayal, triumph, and defeat while fighting not only for their own lives but also the lives of their friends.
Her ability to weave so many interesting characters into this novel makes Kaplan, who also has two down-to-earth mystery novels to her credit, a pleasure to read. Her writing is top notch and her descriptions of people, places and events (including battles) are vivid and add, rather than detract, from the story.
The verdict: A great read for fantasy fans as well as those that are new to the genre and a book I highly recommend.
I loved Mel right way, possibly because she is such an observer/outsider herself. I also relished the intensity of her insatiable desire for Ott. I actually liked all the characters, not just Mel and Ott, because Kaplan spends time developing the desires of her secondary characters too. They have stayed with me long after I finished reading.
I felt quietly pleased by Mask culture: arbiters and archivists of the highest authority. Think librarians as superheroes, only much, much cooler.
With beautiful language choices, Kaplan created a world rich in detail, unique in creative touches, and filled with enjoyable sensory imagery. Because of the story's complexity and blend of genres, it has a wide potential audience. In some ways, it reads like a romance, similar to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. As I read, I thought of both Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (no small compliment from me) and Game of Thrones. Although it was written for adults, young adult fans of fantasy would like it too.
I hope Kaplan writes another story in this memorable world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The abduction of Mel sets the pace with such suspense that I could not find an excuse to...Read more
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