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Masks

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“Mara Holdfast,” the Masker intoned, “You have reached the age of fifteen years…”It is now the will of the Autarch that you become a full citizen of Aygrima, and serve him and his heirs for the rest of your life. Do you accept the will of the Autarch?”

It was hard to say “I do” through the lump in her throat, but all too soon the Masker stepped forward with the beautiful copper-colored Mask in his hands. “Then I welcome you to full citizenship, to adulthood, and to the service of the Autarch: and I present you with this Mask, symbol of your devotion, guardian of your thoughts!” The Masker settled the Mask onto Mara’s face.

It was the most beautiful, wonderful, joyful moment of her life…

…and then it all went wrong.

The Mask squirmed and wriggled like a basket full of snakes, faster and faster, harder and harder. Mara gasped, then screamed, as she felt the skin above her cheekbones rip, the skin of her forehead split, her nose break. She fell to her knees, eyes squeezed shut, scrabbling at the Mask, tearing at it with her fingernails, but it wouldn’t come off, it was going to kill her—

The Mask shattered. A dozen pieces fell away from her face and crashed to the dais. Her blood, shockingly red, splattered the white tiles. She coughed and choked and spat out scarlet-laced saliva and mucus. Gagging, she peered up through bleary eyes to see the Masker looking sternly over her head. “This candidate has failed the Masking. She cannot be made a citizen. In the name of the Autarch, clear this place!”

She heard her mother screaming her name. What’s happening to me? Nothing made sense.

The door to the Maskery slammed closed, cutting off her mother’s screams…

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“Brilliant worldbuilding combined with can’t-put-down storytelling… Bring on the next in this highly original series!” – Julie E. Czernada, author of A Turn of Light

r“The worldbuilding is solid…and Mara’s personal growth is a delight to follow. Sharp characterization, a fast-moving plot, and a steady unveiling of a bigger picture make this a welcome addition to the genre.” – Publishers Weekly

“(A) powerful fantasy novel, the first book in a series that should appeal to both YA and adult readers…Blake brings his fantastic world to life through offbeat links between magic, nature, and human behavior in a caste-ridden society.” – Locus Magazine

“Encapsulating the best features of a good teen title, Masks is sure to resonate with readers…With an intriguing setting and a suspenseful story line that will hook readers, Masks is the first of a promising new series.”- School Library Journal

“Not since the likes of Lirael or Sabriel have I enjoyed a YA with a female protagonist to the extent I did Masks…a novel that will emotionally touch you and leave you reeling through it.” – Fantasy Faction

“4 1/2 stars – Masks grabs the reader’s attention on the first page and holds it until the last….The characters are complex and relatable and grow throughout the story, and the storyline itself is fresh and never predictable. Masks is simply impossible to put down and will leave readers begging for the last two books in the trilogy.” – RT Book Reviews

“4 of 5 stars – I liked this book a lot; the story had me riveted from beginning to end, and there’s lots of potential for the main character and the series’ fantasy world.”  Bibliosanctum

“​​​​​​Tension building that will curl your toes and amazing world building!​” 4/5 stars – My Shelf Confessions

“A must-follow fantasy series with a new heroine to root for!” – Addicted 2 Heroines

“[A] delightfully original and dark fantasy world…E.C. Blake’s Masks is a fantastic debut, set in a chilling and magical world.” 4/5 stars – A Reader of Fictions

Masks is a great step up for older teen readers moving into reading adult fantasy. This book has a bit of a dystopian feel without the cliches that seem to be becoming common in YA dystopian fiction. Adult readers who have enjoyed series such as Terry Brooks’ Shannara novels should be sure to read Masks.” – Kari Lynn Writes

“A great read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels and what is shaping up to be an epic journey.” 5/5 stars – Musings of a Hopeful Author

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Masks: The Audiobook

Recorded Books has released an audiobook version of Masks, narrated by Elizabeth Morton. Buy it from Audible (and listen to a sample) Length: 14 hrs and 41 mins Masks, the first novel in a mesmerizing new fantasy series, draws readers into a world in which cataclysmic events have left the Autarchy of Aygrima – the one …

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