Translated by Y. Maudet.
This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 16.5.
I really wish I had the original French (Amos Daragon, Porteur de Masques, 2003) in hand while reading this novel. My initial reaction was not highly positive, only because the language seems so stilted and “See Spot run.” But the second one gets past what I infer to be a problem with the translation, one can understand why Perro’s series is so popular and has been translated into so many languages. Like J. K. Rowling (although not as artfully), Perro has taken a number of creatures and ideas from disparate myths and legends and fairy tales and stirred them into a witch’s brew of adventure: a species of almost-humans who can change into animals; gorgons, basilisks, mermaids, and fairies; the Indian naga; the Egyptian snake-god, Seth… all have a place in Perro’s fantasy world.
In The Mask Wearer, the first of twelve books in the series, we meet the clever trickster Amos Daragon, who uses his wiles to escape his family’s poverty and set out on a quest to restore a magical stone to the Queen of the Fairies. En route, of course, he makes unlikely friends and is plagued by numerous evils. While this sounds perhaps clichéd, the characters are interesting and the mixture of various folktale elements unique. The story begins awkwardly, almost as if it were written for very young readers, but soon picks up the pace and canters on towards a very well-structured conclusion.