The best books featuring masks and masquerades

Lauren Skidmore Author Of What Is Hidden
By Lauren Skidmore

The Books I Picked & Why

Ella Enchanted

By Gail Carson Levine

Book cover of Ella Enchanted

Why this book?

Ella Enchanted was my introduction to fairy tale retellings. I clearly remember loving it so much that I took it to school one day, and when I pulled it out of my locker at the end of the day, the paperback cover caught and ripped. I was devastated. But I kept that copy and still have it today, well-worn and later signed by the author. It’s a charming story about Ella, a girl cursed with the gift of obedience, who falls in love with her prince. The story culminates with the classic three masquerade balls that Ella attends in secret, unable to resist seeing the prince again even though it may put them both in danger. 

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These Vicious Masks

By Tarun Shanker

Book cover of These Vicious Masks

Why this book?

Set in 1882 England, These Vicious Masks has so many tropes I love in a book. Evelyn’s dry wit and sarcasm are exactly my sense of humor and she’s an intelligent character I enjoyed following. She travels to London to find her missing sister, discovers a society of individuals with X-Men-like abilities, and must use both literal and metaphorical masks to achieve her goals. It’s these metaphorical masks that interest me, how we act differently in different situations, and how we remove them as we grow closer to one another. 

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The Gilded Ones

By Namina Forna

Book cover of The Gilded Ones

Why this book?

The Gilded Ones begins in a community where women wear masks after going through a coming-of-age ritual to show their purity and dedication. Deka wants nothing more than to complete the ritual and be found pure. However, when the village is attacked and Deka learns she is one of the impure and therefore cannot die, she is recruited into the emperor’s army of impure girls. Then, after 20 years of service, she will be made pure and will be able to wear a mask like any other woman. This opportunity is what drives her, and watching her goals change as she learns more about herself and the unique world around her made this read so interesting.  

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone

By Laini Taylor

Book cover of Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Why this book?

It is the backstory of this high fantasy world of angels and demons where masks play a critical role. Two star-crossed lovers meet at a masquerade, their actions rippling into a future on the brink of a supernatural war. The beautiful writing, interesting characters, and complex world-building drew me in and I couldn’t put it down. 

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The Young Elites

By Marie Lu

Book cover of The Young Elites

Why this book?

One of the main characters in The Young Elites is a girl named Adelina, who is flawed, complex, and has a growing darkness inside of her. She joins a group of revolutionaries with special powers with the hopes of learning how to control her own powers and find her place in the world. These Elites wear silver masks to conceal their identities, and Adelina finds refuge at a brothel where the consorts wear masks like works of art. This book has a lot of interesting dynamics between characters, including a platonic friendship between Adelina and a male consort that I rarely see in novels and really enjoyed. 

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