Masks (Cassandra Palmer World)
Published: March 18, 2014 (Penguin)
Review source: purchased
Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free it may reference events in both the Cassie Palmer and Dorina Basarab series.
Venice in the 15th century was supposed to be a ‘free’ place for vampires. Somewhere masterless vampires could go without the fear of persecution. It’s the place where Mircea Basarab finds himself after being cursed with vampirism for only two years.
He hadn’t been there long before he was taken in by the Watch for reasons unknown. From there he was sold into a brothel to be a courtesan. Mircea’s new role is especially important now because the Consul is coming to Venice for the annual convocation. When Mircea finds himself in the bed of a very powerful senator he doesn’t understand that this may be the opportunity he’s been looking for to get back to his former princely glory. But when tensions rise between Consul and senator, Mircea has to decide what he really wants his future to be.
Masks was interesting in that we get to see a Mircea pre-power. He doesn’t have all the confidence and powers that we’ve come to associate with him in the Cassie and Dory books. He doesn’t yet understand the power structures of a vampire family and the benefits and disadvantages. Everything else, for me, in this story felt secondary. Karen Chance tries to spice things up a little giving Mircea a mystery to solve which only further serves the purpose of showing Mircea’s true personality.
I’ve never been a particular fan of Mircea’s in the Cassie series. I don’t know what to think of his oftentimes-mysterious motives when it comes to Cassie being the Pythia and his connection to her. I much prefer the Mircea we see in Dory’s series—the father. It definitely puts him in a completely different light, one I actually like.
Masks accomplishes the same thing. The reader gets to see Mircea as newly turned. To see the beginnings of the vampire/man he will become when both series start. Upon first starting Masks I didn’t understand why Karen Chance chose to tell this particular time in Mircea’s life from his POV when he’s lived such a long life, but after finishing the story I understand. This is the moment that not only shapes him, but is also the beginning of what will turn out to be the senate and Consul that we know from the two main series.
Masks is definitely a book that can be read separately from the other series. If you have read Dory and Cassie’s stories, Masks only enhances those two worlds. Chance took this great opportunity to show a sympathetic yet still strong, if a bit naïve, Mircea. My attitude as a whole has been changed toward Mircea (although not in regards to Cassie), and I would definitely be interested in reading more about his early life should Chance choose to write it.
Sexual content: graphic sex