Rating: 4.25 stars
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Every year, Brice LeChoix gets invited to the masquerade. As the solstice approaches each year, the invites go out for the ball where the fae entice the humans to drink and dance, but they must always be masked. If a guest loses their mask, they must remain, as they will be cursed to dance forever for the fae host.
For as long as Brice can remember, his mother warned him about the evil that the fae bring. His parents have been gone for years now, a result of madness, and the once pristine family estate is now crumbling. Now, Brice and his brother, Charon, live an isolated life weighed down by debt, but Charon is ready to get away from Brice and the estate. Brice has warned Charon not to attend the masquerade, but a stolen invite has Charon dancing with the fae and Brice following to save him. But when dawn arrives and the ball vanishes, so does Charon.
Brice now has to wait a year for the masquerade to take place again. A year without Charon and a year trying to hide from the desires that Raoul unleashed in him that night at the ball. Brice now has to return to the one place he never wanted to go and place his trust in Raoul, a fae who’s intent is trickery and seduction. Brice wants to save his brother, but he might need to save himself as well.
There isn’t an Ariana Nash book that I won’t read and The Final Masquerade is the author’s latest standalone novel. The book opens with Brice and he is the narrator for most of the story, with a few chapters from Raoul. The book has a fairytale feel in a land far away and Nash excels in world building and dark atmosphere. Brice and his brother, Charon, were from a well-respected family, but after the death of their parents, their life is about debt and isolation.
The masquerade has been a story in their lives forever and Brice knows to resist the invitations he gets every year, but Charon is restless and when he attends the masquerade, Brice follows to protect him. The masquerade is an illusion set up by dangerous fae to trap and prey upon mortals for the fae’s own entertainment and nothing is at it seems. When Brice meets Raoul, he is attracted to him and feels a sense of belonging with him, but when Raoul tells Brice that he is a trickster, Brice should believe him.
The book spans a few years as time in the masquerade has different meaning than mortal time. Brice and Raoul come together and break apart and long for each other as they work their way back to each other, as there are many layers to both Raoul and the masquerade. This book is not as dark as others from Nash, but there are specific warnings that should be looked at for any concerns.
While there were a few areas of the storyline that needed more explanation or development by the end and certain areas didn’t fully feel finished to me, it was effortless to get lost in this world overall. Both Brice and Raoul are well developed characters and readers are taken on journey to get to their HEA. For a darker, edgy storyline that will twist its way to the end, The Final Masquerade is what you will want to read.