cover image Masks


E.C. Blake. DAW, $19.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7564-0759-9

Blake (a pseudonym for science fiction author Edward Willet) launches an epic fantasy series set in a remote land where magic is a tangible resource manipulated by a select few. The despotic Autarch maintains strict control over his people with the enforced use of enchanted masks that can reveal traitorous thoughts. When 15-year-old Mara, magically gifted daughter of the Master Maskmaker, goes for her own Masking, the ceremony fails and she is immediately sentenced to the fate of all unMasked: life in a brutal labor camp. In transit, she’s rescued by the rebellious unMasked Army and dropped into intrigue and danger. As Mara struggles to survive, she discovers the true strength of her magic-manipulating Gift. The worldbuilding is solid, though a little too detail-focused at times, and Mara’s personal growth is a delight to follow. Sharp characterization, a fast-moving plot, and a steady unveiling of a bigger picture make this a welcome addition to the genre. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. (Nov.)