For two hundred years the people of the Five-and-One Islands have survived by raiding the mainland. By shaping the reefs around their islands into magical ships, they can cross the great ocean, take what they want, and disappear where no normal ship can follow.First Sentence:
When Jala meets King Azi of the Five-and-One, she forgets everything her family told her to do. She was supposed to be meek and charming. She wasn't supposed to be herself. And she wasn't supposed to fall for him. When the king defies his family and proposes to her, Jala finds herself the islands' new queen. Now she's cut off from her family and despised by the king's advisers. Even her feelings for Azi, that seemed so clear when they were alone, are anything but clear amid the politics of the islands' ruling families.
On the second night after Jala's wedding, the islands are invaded by ships arriving on a tide of magical fog. One of the islands is left in ruin. Others haven't been heard from. And there might be more invaders on the way. If Jala can convince the noble families to work together, they might stand a chance, but she must choose between her family, her love for Azi, and saving her people.
The king's grayships spread out down the length of the coastline, their red-streaked sails visible between the palm trees.
So, Jala's Mask really wanted me to read it as it tumbled off one of my TBR stacks right at my feet. Now, who am I to ignore its humble request that I should read it next.
After Jala's Mask jumped off the TBR stack, I decided that the least I could do was read it. Yes, people, this is how the book picking happens around here some days. Well, while it was interesting and one that I couldn't leave unfinished till the next day, I was not expecting romance to be one of the biggest plot points in the book. Now, after going back and seeing the synopsis, I realize that maybe I should have expected it, but alas, I read the book before seeing what exactly it was about. Oh well, it proved to be a pretty interesting read so no loss.
Even though there was more of a romance angle than I was prepared for, I really enjoyed the feel of this book and the various customs that made up the people of the Five-and-One Islands. It was fun to see how the various elements of the culture combined with the story of Jala and Azi into the big picture. But, it was their struggles to find happiness and save their people from the invaders that really made the story. Jala's Mask was a pretty well laid out book that kept pulling me back in as things became more desperate for all those involved; although, it was the story of Jala and Azi that really caught my attention because they had so much to learn about each other and I enjoyed watching them learn to trust the other, as well, as when they stopped running from their feelings and did something crazy.
The moment that I knew Jala's Mask was going to be a good read, well, that was when both Jala and Azi had to make tough choices. Seeing how they navigated the tensions that came with going against the wishes and schemes of their families is where I began to connect with the characters and their struggles. It was interesting because they did not marry for love, at least not at first, but as the story progresses they begin to see what they other one, and even themselves, is truly made of. The evolution of not just their relationship but that of their personal development is what this such a fascinating read.
Personally, I liked seeing them both hit rock-bottom because it gave them a chance to show who they were underneath the expectations of duty and family. Also, I thought the authors did a great job exploring the depths of their relationship with each other and how their family duty shaped some of the choices they made. Visually, this book is very appealing, and I don't mean the cover, I'm talking about the rich setting of the book and all the little histories of the world they created in the book.
Final Verdict: Jala's Mask- Rich and vibrant storytelling.
Jala's Mask earns