Masquerade Season by ‘Pemi Aguda

Masquerade Season by ‘Pemi Aguda
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

From Nigerian author Pemi Aguda comes “Masquerade Season,” a Original short story

Pauly is a good son. When he brings home three beautiful Masquerades, he’s expecting that his mother will be proud of him. But when his mother begins asking favors of his Masquerades, he realizes that being a good son sometimes means disobeying.
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Not everyone appreciates the beauty in life.

Pauly was such a compassionate and kind kid. These qualities of his even extended to people in his life who didn’t always have the best intentions. Seeing his consistency not only showed off his strong moral code, it made me like him even more. He was the sort of person anyone who needed help could rely on. What made him even more remarkable was that he’d developed these traits at such a young age!

It would have been helpful to have a deeper understanding of what a Masquerade was. I was thrown off by the early and often vague descriptions of it. While they did eventually become clearer, it sure would have been nice to have someone in this storyline explain what exactly they were and why they chose Pauly as their companion. Was it related to what a good person he was or was it a random choice on their part? I certainly don’t mind some unanswered questions in the speculative fiction I read, but I would have given this a perfect rating if it had been a little more forthcoming with its answers about the most important aspects of this creature.

The ending was well-written and suited the tone of this short story perfectly. It left me yearning for more in a good way. I was pretty satisfied with what I’d learned about Pauly and this magical version of Nigeria, but I also wished for a sequel about him and his Masquerades when he was older and perhaps lived on his own. He struck me as the sort of character who would only grow more fascinating over time.

I’d recommend Masquerade Season to anyone who enjoys modern-day fairy tales.

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