I reviewed the first book in this duology, The Twisted Tree, a little while ago, and now I’m back with my review of the sequel, The Crooked Mask. If the first book was creepy and tense, this book takes everything and dials it up to a hundred.
When I read the first book, I read it in equal parts physical book and audiobook. This time, I read a few chapters as an ebook, but mostly listened to it, as I enjoyed the narrator so much. Kate Okello narrated the first book as well, and I would quite happily find audiobooks based on her as a narrator from now on. Highly skilled, she brings the entire book to life, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Deep in a forest in Northern Norway lies the Circus of Myth & Mayhem.
Martha is certain that unsolved mysteries are hidden there – and talks her way into getting a job as a psychic.
She soon learns there’s something very strange about the circus. Costumed performers re-enact stories of the Norse gods wearing masks, which move and change expression, yet no one notices but her. And then there’s the creepy jester who invites her to ‘play’.
When an old friend shows up at the circus Martha is thrown into turmoil. Is he there because he misses her or because he wants to stop her discovering the truth? And he isn’t the only liar she has to worry about. Loki has taken an interest in the circus and Martha finds herself drawn into a dangerous game of the gods. She must look behind the mask and see what’s really happening . . . before it’s too late.
I read this book in one day, so emotionally invested in the book that I needed to keep going. The Twisted Tree had a similar impact on me, and it really speaks of Rachel Burge’s skill that she can keep the tension building and building as every single page turns. It’s also certainly ramped up from book one as far as drama, tension and thrill go, which is just fabulous.
There’s a huge increase in the amount of Norse mythology that’s included in the story, I genuinely learned a lot from the myths that are included within the circus performances, and it led me to buy a book on Norse mythology because it made me so curious. It’s good to branch out from my normal comfort zone of Egyptology!
The way that Martha’s knowledge and understanding of her powers develops throughout the book is a really interesting type of character development, as it’s still such a unique power that Martha has, with such a creative backstory, which really comes into play in this second book. There is the normal level of expected teenage angst and soul searching but not to a degree that it puts you off the book. I genuinely cared about Martha, and all the other characters that are involved in the book, including the new characters that we met in this book. I was already rather fond of Martha from book one, but fell even more in love with her in this second book as she really comes into herself as a person, and into her mythological legacy.
While The Twisted Tree gives a helpful backstory to this book, it could also be read as a separate novel from the first, as all the essential details are filled in cleverly within the opening chapters. It also takes place in an entirely different location and has new characters, so could easily work as a stand alone. Being as scary as it is, while it is technically YA, it would easily contain enough thrill factor for any adults looking for a spooky read this season!
The Crooked Mask is out now on audiobook and ebook, and comes out in paperback on 21st January 2021.