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ALC Review: Masquerade of the Heart by Katy Rose Pool

Release Date:  18 June 2024

Rating: 2.5-3/5

Narrator:  Jennifer Blom

Narration: 3.5/5

Synopsis:  Cursebreaker Marlow Briggs must deal with the aftermath of her fake romance with one of the most powerful nobles in the illustrious—and deadly—Evergarden society , all while uncovering the mystery behind her mother's disappearance. T his edge-of-your-seat duology finale is perfect for fans of Veronica Mars , These Violent Delights, and Chain of Iron .

Caraza sits poised on the edge of chaos. Tensions rise between the Five Families and trouble brews in the Marshes—and Marlow is at the center of it all. In the tragic aftermath of the Vale-Falcrest wedding, Adrius refuses to speak to her, publicly vowing to find a wife before the year is out. Despite her heartbreak, Marlow is still intent on breaking his curse. To do so, she’ll have to play loving daughter to the man who cast it. But the closer she gets to her father, the more she starts to question if he’s really the villain she’s made him out to be.

Marlow has learned by now that in a city steeped in secrets and lies, not everything is as it seems. As the lines between enemy and ally blur, Marlow must decide who to trust—and how high a price she’s willing to pay for the truth.



Caution:  Spoilers ahead for Garden of the Cursed.  Don’t read past this sentence if you don’t want to be spoiled.

I was pretty impressed with Pool’s Garden of the Cursed last year, so I jumped at the opportunity to listen to an ALC of the concluding installment of the duology.  I wasn’t quite as impressed with the sequel, unfortunately.  The book-long build up to finding Marlow’s mother and the bombshell reveal at the end that left readers hanging from a steeeep cliff fizzled out in this one.  One conflict turned into a whole new one and the solution to another was spontaneously solved in the background.  I am not satisfied with my care.

Garden of the Cursed presents the premise of a young girl living in the swampy, backwoods part of a city where she ekes out a living breaking curses while simultaneously searching for her missing mother.  Her reputation as a cursebreaker filters up to high society, and the boy she had a crush on about a year ago, Adrius Falcrest, who holds a membership to one of the richest and most powerful of the top five families of the city, seeks her help breaking a curse that was placed on him.  The two fake date each other so she can worm her way into the upper echelons and figure out who cursed him, but they have a bit of a romantic history, and it culminates in rekindled feelings.  By the end of the book, we have a bit of a resolution for one conflict and none for the other.  Oh, and surprise!  Marlow the Cursebreaker is the lovechild (adulterous) of her mother and a scion of one of the—you guessed it—five ruling families.

Now, I really liked Garden of the Cursed.  It had a lot of twists and turns, and it stayed pretty much within the respectable bounds of content that should be in a YA novel.  I don’t mind a good cliffhanger, either.  This one was one of the better ones.  HOWEVER.

Masquerade of the Heart opens right after Garden leaves us.  Marlow now lives at her father’s house, where she hopes to find how to break the curse he placed on Adrius.  But now we have an entirely new conflict—and suddenly one of the big problems from Garden has been magically solved out of the blue.  It doesn’t make sense, and I even had to back the audiobook up a couple of times to make sure I heard and understood correctly that one of the main, if not the main, issues of the whole story arc was just glossed over with a shrug and some passing hand washing of the whole thing that boils pretty much down to a sentence.  What was the whole first book for, then?

Narration for this one was middle of the road for me also.  Though the character voice differentiation, dramatic effect, and good inflection were there, there was a stilted pacing to it that sounded like nearly every sentence had several periods in it.  If you’ve heard Captain Kirk speak, it was kinda like that but for 12 hours straight.  

Overall, I’m going back and forth between 2.5 to 3 stars out of 5.  I don’t feel that there was due diligence given to explaining how that major conflict was resolved. The conclusion left me with a bit of a bait-and-switch feeling, though I did enjoy the first one quite a bit.  I was let down, hard. Additionally, this book is marketed to children but has some serious adult content and language in it.  It really should be on the New Adult or Adult shelf.

My thanks to Macmillan Audio for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.

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