My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I adored The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Masquerade #1) and loved the *start* of book #2 in this series, but despite some excellent writing and characterisation at the start, the novel disintegrated for me at around the 30% mark.
Structural problems were my biggest issue. Instead of one clear focus on Baru, MONSTER cut between different characters. That in itself isn’t problematic, except that some of the other POVs seemed random in their choice and presentation at times (in one memorable chapter, the narrative switches mid-paragraph from first person following Xate Yawa, back to third distant centered again on Baru.) I’m not really sure why those decisions were made.
The narrative is disjointed (continuation of structural issues) and I struggled to see a clear thread pulling it tightly together, unlike the first book which was sewn up tightly. It gets better when Baru finally leaves the Masquerade people to go do what she does best, but the overall execution still feels sloppy to me.
Smaller point, I was mildly disappointed by the Masquerade crowd. They felt small and powerless, and their rule over the empire very fractured. I found it hard to believe that these people were successfully governing anything when they can barely organise a dinner party. But maybe other readers will react differently.
As ever, my thoughts are my own and opinions are subjective.