I just finished reading Em Kaplan’s Unmasked: Rise of the Masks Book 1. I met Em and her husband, JD, at the Tucson Festival of Books last year. As promised, here’s what I thought about the story.
Unmasked takes place in a completely fictional world. A girl called Mel, is part of a certain class of people known as Masks. They are incredibly knowledgeable and can seem, to the layman, to possess magic and special abilities. The Masks are the judges of this particular world. They are impartial, and unemotional scholars and archivists. Mel was sent out for the summer to investigate the appearance of strange blue trees. To successfully study this phenomena, she masquerades as a typical girl coming of age and stays with others from around the world at what is known as the Keep, a sort of short term finishing school for young women.
Through fortuitous circumstances, Mel met Ott, a Northerner on the hunt for a strange creature that had been terrorizing his town. There is an instant connection between them. Just as the end of her assignment was in sight, the Keep is attacked by ferocious, strange creatures that came out of the ground without warning. It’s up to Mel and Ott to figure out where these creatures came from and what they want.
First, Em’s writing style is very distinct and incredibly pretty. She can paint a scene like no one else I’ve ever read. It’s evident that a lot of work went into creating such a vivid world. The details are incredible and it makes you feel like you are there.
Some of the pacing dips a little, but I found that I didn’t mind that because I felt like I was completely transported.
The part where the flowery language and the descriptions fell just a bit short of stunning is in some of the action scenes. I missed some of the actions and felt a bit confused when suddenly a character was somewhere else doing something else. Also, near the end of the book, there was a strange lack of emotional reaction at a lot of the abilities some of the characters developed and even less understanding of how or why they developed them.
On the whole, though, this story is fun and engrossing. If you are in the mood to be completely transported to a different world, give Unmasked a try. You can find it at justtheemwords.com.