Oh, *that’s* why this reads like the second book in a series … it IS the second book in a series.
I hate it when that happens.
The fact that this was neither the introduction to the characters within nor quite a standalone book was obvious from the chunks of information that float throughout like icebergs.
I honestly still can’t decide whether or not I actually like the main character, Zoe. She wears whole-grain veganism and castoff second-hand clothing like a cloak of specialness, to the point that I wanted to take her clothes in for tailoring and force-feed her Twinkies and hamburgers.
“Soaking raw nuts ahead of time, then blending them with water and a little salt and lemon juice, created a thick cream more decadent than the heavy cream Dorian used to cook with” – Really? Forgive me, but I find that inconceivable. I mean … have you met heavy cream?
I was frankly shocked that when the main character mentions chocolate and doesn’t specify that it’s free trade guaranteed non-slave-labor-using GMO free cocoa.
And the reason for the second-hand ill-fitting clothing is that most of her clothes were destroyed in the events of the first book. Long after I’ve forgotten the characters’ names and the plot, I will remember this, because sheer repetition is a time-honored way to make things stick in one’s memory, and boy howdy does this get repeated. And repeated.
And Dorian? The living gargoyle who I suppose was supposed to be the charming and irresistible and adorable sidekick? I have to say it was hard to get past a preposterous-sounding synopsis: immortal alchemist protects gargoyle kind of accidentally brought to life by Robert Houdin. Fantasies are often hard to encapsulate in a way that sounds sane, but for whatever reason this one seemed too far out there. And the adorable sidekick frankly just annoyed me. He could be shockingly stupid at times. Example: he is returning to stone bit by bit, and at one point “Dorian clapped along until the claw of his left pinky finger broke off.” I have no patience for that level of common-senselessness, in reality or in fictional characters. (And, seriously, don’t be bashing Harry Houdini. Don’t.)
I realized after reading this that I had taken advantage of an Audible Daily Deal and purchased the first book in the series. After I finished this I returned that first book. So much of the story was revealed in “The Masquerading Magician” that it didn’t feel like it was worth it. And, quite honestly, I just wasn’t at all interested in any more of the story.
The inanity of the characters, and the constant repetitions within the writing –using the same phrases over again in the space of a few pages or a few chapters or a few lines, and as I mentioned hammering points like Zoe’s veganism and what happened to her clothing and so on into the ground over and over.
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.