Review: LABYRINTH'S HEART by M.A. Carrick


Official Author Website

Buy Labyrinth’s Heart HERE
Read our review for Book 1, THE MASK OF MIRRORS

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: M.A. Carrick is the joint pen name of Marie Brennan (author of the Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of the Adventures of Mr. Mystic). The two met in 2000 on an archaeological dig in Wales and Ireland — including a stint in the town of Carrickmacross — and have built their friendship through two decades of anthropology, writing, and gaming. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Labyrinth’s Heart was published by Orbit Books on August 15th, 2023. It is 632 pages long and told in third person from multiple POVs, including Ren, Vargo, and Grey. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Ren came to Nadezra with a simple goal: pretend to be the long lost daughter of a noble family and scam enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life. She never imagined she’d be drawn into a centuries-long struggle to lift a curse that has secretly been haunting the city. But even with the Nadezra on the verge of violence due to political tensions, it looks like victory may finally be in sight. Ren will have to use all of her secret identities, cunning, magic, and allies if she is to break the curse and finally bring peace to the city.

Labyrinth’s Heart
is a deftly woven finale that brings the many, MANY plots of the Rook & Rose series to close. To give you a sense of how much is going on, a big moment that I thought for sure would have happened around the midpoint of a book happened barely a third of the way in. I was never bored once during the 600 pages of this tome, as there was always some new crisis to handle or revelation being discovered. This book accomplishes SO MUCH without dropping the pacing, always driving the big story forward without making little victories feel episodic.

While I did find the overall threat to be a bit of a macguffin, that didn’t stop it from being an effective catalyst. The true joy here is watching Ren, Grey, and Vargo coming together to use their various skills to solve one problem after another. And those problems come in all kinds of varieties, from political turmoil to family drama to even collapsing city infrastructure. I particularly loved Ren really coming to understand her gift with pattern magic in this tarot-inspired system, using her intuition and cards to not just see the threads of fate, but to guide them as well.

My one tiny complaint is that there was one character backstory element that I wish had been seeded a little better throughout the series (and this may just be my faulty memory, as it’s been a few years since I read The Mask of Mirrors), as it is fairly important to the conclusion. But that is a mere hiccup in the overall enjoyment I have had in this series, which has been tremendous.

CONCLUSION: I’ve said multiple times over the years that this series couldn’t have been made more for me if it tried. Dashing heroes on rooftops, multiple characters with secret identities, political uprisings, social maneuvering, intuitive tarot-based magic, family drama, and of course, cons, this series has just about everything that I could want. I was never impatient to get through one of these books, as I just love this world so incredibly much. While I’m sad the journey is over, Labyrinth’s Heart was all I could have asked for in a finale of my favorite series.

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