The Mask Falling, Samantha Shannon – Book Review

Hello Humans! Welcome back to another book review! Today I want to have a quick chat about book four in The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon – while things are going to be spoiler-free for book four you might encounter spoilers for the rest of the series so click away if you haven’t read those yet.

Goodreads Summary:

Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Programme has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim – her former enemy – at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.

As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them – and could end with them.

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For full context, I read The Mask Falling having pretty recently re-read the rest of the series and having read The Dawn Chorus which is a novella that falls between The Song Rising and this fourth book. I don’t think you’d need to read the novella but it might be a bit of added info if you’re really keen on the series – and it might make certain things have a tiny bit more impact. I do recommend at least refreshing your memory on the series as there are a lot of things that happened in book two that have implications in this book. Here at the halfway point of the series it can’t hurt to have a quick reread.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Mask Falling, it’s interesting to see how Samantha Shannon’s writing has come on since The Bone Season and alongside that what hasn’t changed about this series. While I think some elements of the book have become a bit more broad and a bit less ‘one woman against the world’ the core of the story is still focussed in on Paige.

And does she have a time of it.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I read all four books in close succession or if it was because that was on my mind while reading this but Samantha Shannon doesn’t cut Paige any slack (particularly if you choose not to read The Dawn Chorus). For pretty much the entirety of the book Paige is either recovering from one hurt or being hurt in a different way. I think in this book it was particularly prominent because the emotional anguish was really evident. I think it’s a matter of personal preference as to how much ‘bad vs good’ moments a book has. I personally prefer it when a book has more good than bad in it – and that’s not true in this case. At least not with how I read it. That’s not to say those emotional (and physical) moments aren’t well written, but there are a lot of them. I suppose my advice in that instance would be to chose carefully when to read this book, pick a time when you’re in the mood for that kind of story.

But this book is a compelling read. I would have thought by book four (and seven years on from the original publication) this world and this story might have run out of steam. But I think the fact that through each book you get to see a different aspect of this world really helps to keep things fresh. In this case we see Scion-Paris (and some of the surrounding area). I really liked seeing how things were different from Scion London and the other parts of the UK we’d seen so far, it definitely helps to give that sense of quiet resistance against assimilation which I think is an important theme in these books. I am also a person who thinks The Mime Order is the strongest book in the series because we get to see the most of the criminal underworld – so to get to see those elements of an entirely different city was really interesting. I was a little bit concerned that this would start to feel like a strange ‘Paige Mahoney goes to [Insert Country Here]’ kind of story but I shouldn’t have doubted Samantha Shannon’s commitment to detailed worldbuilding.

I think those that enjoy the series will really like this book – and if this is the trajectory the series is taking in terms of themes and ideas I think I’m down for it, provided Paige gets a little bit of downtime. I maintain that book two is still my favourite but I think this comes second.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Mask Falling publishes January 26th!

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