The Liar’s Knot – M.A. Carrick

The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick
Also by this author: The Mask of Mirrors, Labyrinth's Heart
Series: Rook & Rose #2
Published by Orbit on December 9, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
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Trust is the thread that binds us . . . and the rope that hangs us.
In Nadezra, peace is as tenuous as a single thread. The ruthless House Indestor has been destroyed, but darkness still weaves through the city’s filthy back alleys and jewel-bright gardens, seen by those who know where to look.
Derossi Vargo has always known. He has sacrificed more than anyone imagines to carve himself a position of power among the nobility, hiding a will of steel behind a velvet smile. He'll be damned if he lets anyone threaten what he's built.
Grey Serrado knows all too well. Bent under the yoke of too many burdens, he fights to protect the city’s most vulnerable. Sooner or later, that fight will demand more than he can give.
And Ren, daughter of no clan, knows best of all. Caught in a knot of lies, torn between her heritage and her aristocratic masquerade, she relies on her gift for reading pattern to survive. And it shows her the web of corruption that traps her city.
But all three have yet to discover just how far that web stretches. And in the end, it will take more than knives to cut themselves free...

I waited a while before writing this review, as I wanted time to absorb The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick. I liked its precursor, The Mask of Mirrors, but the second book of Carrick’s Rook & Rose series deserves to be on an even higher pedestal. It should be on a throne, a league all its own. I still didn’t enjoy it as much as Matthew Ward’s “Legacy” (sorry I compare every fantasy novel to these books, but I adored them), but The Liar’s Knot is a creative, imaginative, and original work of fiction. Each page unfurls more of a mystery and more excitement as Carrick takes readers back into Nadežra.

I fell even more in love with the characters in this novel. Ren, Grey, Tess, Vargo…all of them became more real—Vargo, especially. Derossi Vargo…was not my favorite in The Mask of Mirrors. I questioned all his motives, thought he had little to no redeeming qualities. He had a good sense of humor, but I still did not like him. A good author—or in this case, authors—can make a reader change his/her opinion. Through revealing more and more of Vargo’s history, he grew on me. And that’s something I never thought I would say. I touch a lot on characters in my reviews because they are so important to me. A book cannot exist without its players. I want them to grow. Characters need to have weaknesses; they need to be imperfect and, in some manner, unlikeable. Well, Carrick delivers.

The Liar’s Knot builds on The Mask of Mirrors exceptionally well. And once again, the title is perfect. This novel has flirtation, comedic moments, sword fights, magic, and…well, evil. In many novels, the antagonists’ motivations seem…forced, like the characters themselves are afterthoughts. This is not the case in The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick. And even with the overarching plot—which I won’t reveal, because SPOILERS—there are entertaining stories beneath it. As an example: Readers know the identity of the Rook, but the other characters do not. But come to find out, there’s a bigger story behind the Rook that’s beyond what readers could’ve thought. One character in particular desires to know the person behind the mask…and I won’t say anymore, because it’d give away too much.

I will say this: I wasn’t expecting any hint of a romance in The Liar’s Knot , but Carrick slips it into the pages in such a pleasing manner. It isn’t overwhelming. It isn’t in your face. The plot doesn’t revolve around it, but the romance is rather one more spoke in the wheel. I read a lot of books—and yes, many of them are romance novels, but that isn’t the point. Few of those books, however, lead me to talk aloud to characters. The Liar’s Knot did it. I told the characters to “FIGURE IT OUT!” And “YOU CAN TRUST HIM, JUST GET IT OVER WITH.”

I kept having to remind myself that, as a reader, I glimpsed into all the characters’ minds—they couldn’t see each other’s. There are many qualities about The Liar’s Knot that could have made it confusing. It is a very complex story with many twists and turns. It is tense—enough that at times, I found myself chewing on a fingernail. As the cords of the plot’s knot unravel, everything makes sense. I never had questions due misunderstanding. Never did my brow furrow as I wondered, “Wait, what?” Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms—who write jointly under the pen name “M.A. Carrick”—are masters. I reread passages not because I had to but because I wanted to.

The Liar’s Knot is a good one, and I was quite unhappy when it ended. Though it does reach a conclusion, it also seems to set up a third novel…