Book Review – This Eternity of Masks and Shadows

After a busy few posts with lots of brilliant blog tours, it’s back to normal here, or at least as normal as it ever is. A huge thank you again to all the publishers, authors, and especially the Wolfson Prize for keeping me on my toes.

This was my first completed book for my Olympic Games Readathon, and what a book to start with. You can find the rest of my list here, which I’m working my way through at a reasonable speed. It was a book I approved to read from NetGalley, and I’m so glad I applied for it.

The basis of this YA fantasy is that all the ancient deities are real. All of them, from all belief systems, all over the world. These goddesses and gods live normal mortal lives, capable of dying and having children, but they also have their powers, that at some point in their lives they have to learn about, and learn to control. These goddesses and gods can be born into any body at any time, and in any circumstances.

Our main character, Cairn, is the daughter of Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea and underworld, and so has been aware of the situation with gods not only walking the earth, but being close to home, for quite a while when our story begins. Told from multiple perspectives, we see a situation arising which is unusual and intimidating in nature by itself, before it then comes close to the characters we’ve grown attached to.

With the death of her mother, Cairn is left to work out so much on her own; the situation with her best friend and maybe girlfriend, how to support her dad as he grieves, and then, completely by accident, the secret second life it turns out Sedna has been living. Determined to get to the bottom of her mother’s mission, she begins to investigate, and finds herself faces with horrendous danger, and horrific truths.

Karsten Knight has done a brilliant job in capturing how society would cope with the realities of legends existing, and how teenagers cope with secrets. I felt the descriptions were fantastic, the whole book highly emotive, and generally completely captivating. I couldn’t put it down. I was close to tears multiple times, and on the edge of my seat many others.

Cairn as a character is engaging, between her stubborn tendencies and wit, and you want nothing more than to wrap her in a huge hug throughout certain situations. Through her adventure we meet a lot of gods, and via the other perspectives many other goddesses and gods, giving us an insight into a world that has been so thoroughly created, ready to be explored. With all the variety of people – especially mythological – that we meet, it is evident how well it has been researched, and how much thought has been put into which mythologies to intertwine.

The book was published on 2nd June, so is newly out, and ready to be read. It comes with my highest recommendations if you enjoy either high or low fantasy, or just a well constructed story. Although this is YA aimed, any audience that looks forward to something a bit different would gain from reading this.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of this brilliant book, and congratulations to Karsten Knight on the recent publication!

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