The Rook & Rose series just dropped its second book, The Liar’s Knot, which is surprising given that we just ranked the first installment (The Mask of Mirrors) as one of our top books of the year. M.A. Carrick is clearly a duo that doesn’t like to waste time, especially given that these books are both enormous in size and thick in depth and complexity. This review inherently will have mild spoilers for the first novel so if you want to remain completely unsullied I would recommend that you stop here and check out our review of book one if you are trying to make your mind up about the series. Or you can stick around and hear if the second book is as good as the first.
The second book is as good, if not better than the first. There you go, see you later. Wait, wait; I was just joking, I have more to say. One of the strange things about the original Mask of Mirrors is that the book almost read like a prequel. There was so much setup of the characters, world, stakes, and relationships that there wasn’t a ton of time for plot developments. This was actually fine because the setup was very entertaining to read, but with The Liar’s Knot, I was ready to dig into more story.
At the end of book one, Ren has managed to outwit her old handler, escape a realm of endless nightmares, establish herself as a member of an aristocratic family, forge multiple important connections across the city, and become a Venician Sailor Scout. Not bad for a day’s work. The Liar’s Knot picks up right after the events of the first book. The first half of the novel, similarly to the first, focuses primarily on character development, political machinations/maneuvering, and investigation of possible enemies and allies as Ren (and her two co-protagonists, Vargo and Grey) all try to figure out who is who and untangle the metaphorical liar’s knot. This all abruptly comes to a head when in the second half of the story there is an element of urgency introduced that drives the trio to save the city, again, and finally established the core throughline between all three protagonist’s stories and how they are all connected. It’s a great time.
I had a fun realization while I was reading Liar’s, which is that I am an idiot and there is very obviously a love triangle going on that I was just completely oblivious to for like a thousand pages. I actually ended up liking the triangle between Ren, Vargo, and Grey. While all three of them had POV sections in book one, it was definitely primarily focused on Ren at all times. In book two we get a much more balanced division of page space and Vargo and Grey definitely move from protagonist/support to core protagonists. The expansion of both of the boys’ backstories was really fun in the first half of Liar’s and it showed me that Carrick really knows what they are doing when it comes to information control with their readers. They give you just enough info to keep you constantly hooked, despite the confusing and complicated plots, while shrouding much of everything in mystery. But, it was also great to actually understand the core conflict of the series through Liar’s storytelling. It helped add an element of direction and purpose to the story that was a little lacking in the first book. Otherwise, everything else that was great about Mask is still good here. The book is brimming with passion, the city is great, and I am very attached to the characters.
The Liar’s Knot is a notch above its predecessor in terms of storytelling and characterization. This is the first book I have read for my 2022 year because we roll December over and it was an absolutely fabulous place to start. This series is going to be one of the strongest to come out in the next few years and it was a great way to kick off my 2022 reading. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Rating: The Liar’s Knot – 9.0/10