This post contains a gifted item and affiliate links*.
So today’s post is a super exciting one; it’s a review of the highly anticipated The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon! I very luckily received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher back in 2020 and it absolutely blew me away and was one of my top books of the year. In my opinion it’s the best book of the series so far and one you should all be adding to the top of your TBR.
A word of warning – while this review is spoiler free for The Mask Falling, if you haven’t read the rest of the series so far (and if you haven’t – WHY NOT?) then there may be mild spoilers for those.
Put your feet up, grab a cuppa and your favourite snack and let’s get stuck in shall we.
Related: An Interview with Samantha Shannon
Genre: Adult science fiction fantasy / dystopian
Source: Advanced copy via the publisher
Link: Book Depository*
Spice Rating: 🌶
Dreamwalker 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 Program 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…
Content warnings: PTSD, torture, gore, imprisonment, waterboarding, graphic descriptions of medical procedures, violence
In a few words:
The gripping next instalment in The Bone Season septology, in which we follow Paige to the depths of the Parisian catacombs as she strives to fuel her rebellion. This book will have your heart racing just before Samantha Shannon breaks it.
My Review of The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon
Set 10 months after the events of the first book, The Mask Falling opens with a prelude which picks up right where The Song Rising ends, with Warden and Paige being transported from Dover to Paris with the help of the Domino programme.
Paige is still reeling from her torture at the hands of Scion and the Rephaim, and though the novella The Dawn Chorus shows a lot of her PTSD and the beginning of her road to recovery, this isn’t something that just happens overnight and it certainly bleeds through into this novel. It’s also plain to see how much care and thought Samantha has put into this portrayal, just like with the rest of her work.
With Warden having been tortured by the same people, he has somewhat of an understanding of what Paige is feeling. He doesn’t rush her to recover, he isn’t frustrated and he doesn’t try and take over the pace of her recovery either; it’s as if he anticipates her needs and wishes without being forceful.
I loved how much time we got to spend with Paige and Warden in this story. He is supportive and caring and it was so heartwarming to see these tender moments between the two. Whatever there is between them is so raw and meaningful and the slowest of slow burns!
The two are finally on level ground: in Sheol 1 Warden was her keeper, and in London she had been his queen. Now, they are two fugitives. They finally have the time to really talk and get to know one another, which when I look back they never really had the opportunity to. They were either literally on the run from death or surrounded by other people, almost playing a part. Paige also finally has the chance to learn more about the Rephaim, which in turn means we get to know more about them too! I still have so many questions though.
There were little moments of normality woven into the high stakes plot, such as Warden planning a little party for Paige’s birthday, or the anniversary of her womb birth as he calls it, with an “otherwise acquired” cake. I massively appreciated how Warden adopted a slight sense of humour and his fascination with more human things like films.
Paige isn’t the kind of heroine who just gets up and goes about each day showing impossible feats of strength and I love this. At the end of the day she is human and acts as such, particularly in this story as she deals with her new weakness after the events in London. Samantha Shannon has a fantastic way of weaving in these details without slowing the pace of the action, tying in how Paige’s gift might be assisting her or debilitating her. For example, we see Paige literally using adrenaline to keep up with the Ranthen.
Warden had previously told Paige she was worth the risk, and this is an ongoing discussion in this book, as Paige deals with her conflicting feels. Honestly I can’t even deal with the tension between these two and maybe we see some of it come into play in this book. Arghhh!!! This book had me screaming. Also I loved how Paige started to use the name Artcurus, with them now being on more equal footing and having a deeper relationship.
While undoubtedly there is a ton of character growth and development throughout this story, please don’t underestimate how much action there is too. When I say it was non-stop, I mean non-stop.
The Mask Falling has opened up this world massively, with huge scope for future books, particularly as we are now in an entirely new Citadel. It was so exciting to see into a new world and how their voyant population survives in comparison to that in London.
With this new Citadel we are introduced to a host of new characters who, just like the existing cast, all feel unique and three dimensional, and I’m intrigued to see how some of them will play a part throughout the rest of the septology. During the course of this story some of our other well loved favourites are off on their own adventures and I can’t wait to see their arcs come into fruition as the story continues also!
With tidbits of history and facts dotted throughout, the world feels rich and immersive, and again this is just another clear example of the work and effort Samantha has put into this story. I particularly enjoyed the espionage element of the story with gadgets such as eye colour changing drops, hidden blades and secret identities, again reinforcing how much this story and world has grown. The scale of the rebellion feels huge now, and it has definitely grown alongside Paige since The Bone Season.
The action scenes were impeccably choreographed and it felt right as if I were in the Paris catacombs alongside Paige and Warden. The character’s reactions and feelings were so vividly described and I loved this feeling of immersion into the story, even if at times I felt the second hand panic for them! I cannot begin to describe the scope of these kinds of scenes in order to keep this spoiler free but Samantha took this book to a whole other level and I was hooked. It was truly unputdownable.
It’s also important to discuss the representation that we see in The Mask Falling. While Samantha has acknowledged this already on social channels, within the book we see that Paige is canonically demisexual. There is also a character with they/them pronouns and we see Arcturus tell Paige about his past and how he has had mates of different genders. Alongside this there is a deaf character, and those of different ethnicities and sexual orientations.
Honestly my heart was in my mouth for the entirety of The Mask Falling and I was physically nervous. This book will truly have you questioning everything you thought you knew about The Bone Season! With that explosive ending and the huge cliffhanger we were left on, I actually feel bereft now that it’s over. I’m going to have to reread the last 30% soon and definitely the entire book again because that was a ride.
I honestly couldn’t predict where this story was headed, and with only three books left I truly couldn’t even hazard a guess as to where this series will end. Samantha Shannon has a brilliantly wicked mind but I trust her implicitly. Her talent is exceptional and while the first book was 10/10 for, you can definitely see how much the writing has developed across the story.
I could read these books forever but SAMANTHA HOW COULD YOU END THINGS LIKE THAT?