Thank you to Tor for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Book: The Monster
Series: The Masquerade #2
Author: Seth Dickinson
Year Published: 2019
- Plot: 4/5
- Characters: 4.5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Overall: 4/5
The Monster (the sequel to The Traitor) was another sprawling geopolitical fantasy full of twists and scheming. It wasn’t as mind-shatteringly brilliant for me as the first book but it was still very intriguing and well worth reading.
This book started exactly where the previous one ended. We met the main character Baru again and got more insight into her motivations. Then the story took a wildly unpredictable turn involving a quest for immortality, new characters, new points of view and general chaos (in a good way). The Traitor focused on Baru’s machinations to gain power and destroy the empire from within but The Monster was bigger than that. Baru had the power now and she using it to achieve her goal whilst trying to outmanoeuvre the manipulations of everyone else.
Baru’s cool, indifferent façade shattered away and we got to see her more vulnerable than ever before. For much of the book she was completely lost, reeling from grief and feeling horror at the destructive consequences of her actions- but only after she’d done them. She didn’t know how to handle the moral cost of taking down an empire. She knew what she wanted to achieve and told herself that she didn’t care about whoever ended up as collateral. It was hard to tell if she truly thought her actions were for the greater good or if she saw herself as a monster, just like everyone else. The Empire had nothing to hold over her and therefore found her terrifying– and rightly so. But as her control over herself and her situation slipped it became increasingly difficult to tell if she was the puppeteer or the puppet.
I think the most impressive aspect of this book was how much it expanded on its world. We are told all about the federation of Oriati Mbo which had completely different politics, beliefs and culture to the Empire of Masks. However, all the new variables added to the story made the plot go a little out of control as if it was frantically trying to arrange everything for the next book.
This series is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s so unashamedly brutal, daring and clever and in its own odd way, it works. Overall, The Monster was a gripping read and although some parts felt too outlandish and unnecessary I still have high hopes for the next book in the series.