Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review The Şiret Mask by Marie Brennan.
Fiction Friday: The Şiret Mask
Today’s story is The Şiret Mask by Marie Brennan, as featured in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. You can find it here. I should mention before we begin that this is Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ 500th story. So congrats to them. It’s not an easy feat to get to, especially after being around for so long. Magazines tend to come and go, so it’s nice to see one sticking around for the long haul. Here’s to 500 more. Anyway, let’s begin.
The Siret Mask is a story about a famous mask that has no real power, yet is highly sought after. Our heroes discover that a famous thief known as Laperi plans to steal that mask, and Codruţ is not happy about it. Much like any thief story goes, Codruţ calls him out and instead of hiding it, has it out in plain sight as a taunt to this mysterious Laperi. The main character, Viorica Mareşoiu and her friend, Oana are tasked with protecting him. However, there’s another thief seeking the mask, and none of them expect that one of their own might be the true thief. It’s a mad dash to protect a simple mask with little value other than its history of theft.
It takes place in a small village, called Râu Tare with Romanian origins, likely based on the word, “Şiret” (I had to google the word to find the origins since I’m unfamiliar with the language. I hope I’m right, but if not, I’ll correct this).
While I haven’t read too many stories like this, it’s a fun tale. The idea of a mask that has literally no value other than the fact the people keep stealing it is unique and hilarious all at the same time. It adds value to the story and I don’t think it wouldn’t be as interesting without it.
As far as the story itself, I’ll at least reveal this bit. While Laperi is indeed the antagonist, or rather, the rival, Viorica is the real thief. It’s hinted as much in the beginning. As far as that’s concerned, I felt it would have been a bigger twist if the monologue in the beginning was left unsaid. While the story was still a fun voyage, I felt it kind of killed the twist.
Knowing that minor twist, it wasn’t like it wasn’t enjoyable. I’m watching an anime series called Lupin the 3rd, and it has a kind of master thief vibe to it. It feels like something I could see as an episode to a larger series of stories. I’d love to see this story be developed into a larger anthology starring these characters.
To me, the central character, Viorica, was the star of this story. I mean, sure, other characters were part of it, but she was the most interesting one. She’s cunning, secretive, and exactly what you’d expect from a master thief. She also gets in over her head at times, as the beginning of the story, she’s hanging by a rope.
One other character, I should mention, and this is somewhat of a spoiler, is a character named Cserjén. He appears towards the end as what I would assume to be the heroine’s mentor or partner. Very little is known about him, and I wish he could have at least been alluded to aside from a brief moment.
The rest of the characters were fine. The relationship with Viorica and Oana is interesting, especially upon finding out Viorica’s true motive.
The writing was good and captured the emotion of the setting and the intensity of the heist. I like the lore of this world, and again, how the mask was all but useless and how it had a history of theft. It’s told from Viorica’s perspective. It had a good atmosphere to this place. Not much else to say. It was very easy to follow.
This is another fun story about good old-fashioned thievery. I mentioned earlier that I’d love to see more stories like this or even an anthology with these characters. Have the three get into crazy antics and steal things across the city for fun and profit (but mostly fun). I feel like the author might hit a gold mine for this world. We’ll see where that goes, but overall, this is definitely one worth reading.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.