Traitor’s Masque

What if Cinderella didn’t go to the ball to dance with the prince?
What if she went to betray him?
Trystan Colbourne never meant to be a traitor. All she wanted was to escape the suffocating walls of the place she used to call home, where her stepmother’s hatred has made her an unwilling prisoner.Desperate for a taste of freedom, Trystan accepts an offer of sanctuary from an old family friend, and for a moment, it seems as though all of her dreams are about to come true.But dreams are fickle, and neither politics nor princes are ever quite what they seem. When she agrees to attend the royal masque, Trystan is plunged headlong into a nightmare of conspiracy, espionage and intrigue. With lives and even kingdoms at stake, she may be forced to sacrifice everything she thought she wanted in order to save the man she loves.–
Traitor’s Masque is the first book in The Andari Chronicles, a series of interconnected fairy tale retellings that evoke the glittering romance of the originals, while infusing them with grit, humor, and a cast of captivating new characters. –from Goodreads

Sigh. By now, I’m sure you all know what a sucker I am for fairytales. And when I saw a review mentioning that this book is similar to the movie Ever After (my favorite), I had to read it.

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This was such a beautiful book. Not super intense, or suspenseful, but just enough to keep me hooked. The pacing was not extremely fast, but it wasn’t so slow it was dull, either. It was more like climbing a staircase–steady, but relentless. The plot itself was great–it stuck with more of the traditional feel of fairytales while still being fresh. There was no Prince Charmings [SPOILER Excepting the evil one. END SPOILER], no magical fairy godmothers [SPOILER Again, excepting the evil one. But she wasn’t magical, so it doesn’t quite count.END SPOILER], and no pumpkin coaches. But it still was very much a Cinderella story. If you’ve seen Ever After (if you haven’t, you must–right now), you will understand what I mean.

The main characters were not perfect, but flawed. They were relatable and understandable. They were real. They would make a decision and I would think “Yes! That’s exactly what you should do in this situation.” Then I would see how that would turn out and be like “Oh. I didn’t expect that to happen. Should have thought things through.” Can’t fault them too much for making bad decisions–I probably would have done the same things. I also loved their sense of humor, and the brilliant, witty banter that went on back and forth. The characters were definitely the best part of this book.

Another thing about this book that amazed me was the incredible vocabulary the author possesses. I came across words such as wastrel, supposition, pungency, and insouciance (the last one was a bit over-used in the first part of the book.) It is rare for me to find a book containing words I am not already familiar with, but this one did the trick. Now, to find a way to incorporate insouciance into everyday language…

Some minor quibbles: I took one star off for the combination of the following: first of all, the setting–while being very traditional–could be improved. I’m a big fan of amazing world-building (think Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time trilogy), so I would have liked to see more in Traitor’s Masque. Another thing: the stepmother and stepsisters could use some rounding out, and something to make them a little more sympathetic. They felt flatly villainous. And last of all, it had a good bit of profanity. Not a fan. Other than that, I’m satisfied.

Wrap-up: Traitor’s Masque is a perfect retelling of Cinderella. It is traditional without feeling dull, and features characters that could be easily transplanted to the real world (as long as it was back in the 17th or 18th century). You also might wish to keep a dictionary on hand while reading.

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended: 13 and up (mostly due to language concerns and one violent scene)

Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):

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Language: 6/10 (profanity used fairly regularly)
Violence: 6/10 (violent death of a character, a bit gruesome. characters incurs serious wounds while escaping.)
Sexual Content: 1/10 (characters is referenced as being a womanizer, but that is the extent. one light kiss, not described.)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

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