A Medieval Fantasy Romance - Book 1 of the Huskarl Duology
by Jay Pellegrin
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Pub Date 01 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2022
Voiced by acclaimed voice artist, Kathryn Vinclaire.
Accent: Warm, husky, velvety British RP
Who knew the jester was dangerous, or that he would try to steal her heart?
After seven long years of learning magic at the Wizarding Guild, twenty-two-year-old Leyna is eager to graduate and pursue a glorious career as a wizard in the Royal Guard—until a horrendous injury leaves her dream in ruins.
Defeated and with no chance of graduating, Leyna resigns herself to failure—so no one is more surprised than her when she is given a second chance to go to Rutherford Castle.
But Leyna soon learns that not all that glitters is gold, and the royal castle’s inhabitants hold dangerous secrets, including the mysterious jester, who is both infuriating and charming.
When tragedy strikes the kingdom, Leyna is drawn deeper into a web of secrets and lies, and becomes entangled with the jester in a treacherous game of trust and betrayal—but can she trust the jester with her heart?
AMAZON BESTSELLER AND AWARDED READERS’ FAVORITE 5-STAR SEAL, this medieval fantasy romance blends magic, castles, ballrooms, political intrigue and a slow-burn romance for a seductive, page-turning escape.
This is Book 1 of the Huskarl Duology - Book 2 Releasing late 2023.
|DURATION||23 Hours, 34 Minutes|
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 49 members
Thank you to Jay Pellegrin and NetGalley for this ARC, and this doesn’t influence my review. I loved the audiobook, and this is my first time deciding to listen to an audiobook! Overall it was a great experience, getting to hear one of my favorite books, the only complaint I had was that I wish there was a male voice as well, which would’ve further improved my experience.
Spectacular story highlighted by the amazing narration. Great world building, fascinating characters, & captivating plot.
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for the ARC.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had such a ton of fun reading/listening to it. While the romance was not the main focus of the book, I found the plot very compelling anyway. Did I figure out who the Jester was right away? Sure. Did I know who the perpetrator of the terrible tragic event in the story was right off the bat? Not really. Did I still want to finish it? You bet. I also listened to book, and the narrator made it very interesting for me. If I had read through some parts, maybe my experience would have been different. As it is, I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen. I enjoy books in medieval-type settings with court intrigue and spies, so this book was right up my alley.
Though the book is classified as adult, I feel Leyna has a bit of naïveté that goes more with a YA-type novel than an adult one. The Goodreads shelves are all over the place for this one, and for some reason adult fantasy is often classified there incorrectly as Young Adult when it is, in fact, adult; but this book has a tiny hint of YA themes in it relating to the loss of innocence for the main character. I feel Leyna’s journey toward finding herself and figuring out what she wants for herself and not what she wants of herself in order to honor/memorialize/please others can happen for people her age as well. Indies can be hard to classify, though, because they are outside of the boxes traditional publishing likes to squeeze stories into, which is why I love them. The content of the book is very mature, though, so I would definitely not place this on a YA shelf.
When there was romance in the book, I felt it was done well. I loved the chemistry between Jester and Leyna. It wasn’t instalove (though there’s nothing wrong with that in a book—different people have different tropish preferences), but it was a reluctant admittance of attraction and a slow falling in love for them. I loved how the two interacted with one another; they bantered back and forth and Pellegrin made the Jester very appealing, in my opinion. The conversation, when Jester wasn’t being Jester, was endearing. I also found it refreshing that there was a plot that Leyna and Jester were a part of and not the whole story revolved around the romance—to me it was an enjoyable, healthy balance.
The narrator, Kathryn Vinclaire, did a wonderful job bringing the story to life. Different characters had separate, very distinct voices (though one of them was extremely annoying for me), and I could feel the sultriness of the Jester’s flirtatious comments and their effect on Leyna quite well. I loved listening to it, and a great narrator for a great story makes for an enthusiastic and positive rating from me.
There were only a few minor drawbacks for me, but nothing that made the book less fantastic . Primarily, I think the synopsis on the back of the book could use a significant overhaul and should be the same across all outlets. There was an established expectation of heavily focused romance in the plot in one synopsis that just doesn’t translate to the book. It’s a romance, sure, but the romance doesn’t drive the plot. There’s quite a bit more substance to the narrative than just the two main characters walking around the castle making googly eyes at each other. Unfortunately, in the fantasy romance market, if a romance-driven plot is a set expectation for a book, and that expectation is not met, there will be some unhappy bookish folk. Additionally, I really didn’t care for one of the side characters. In the audiobook, the narrator makes the voice for this character very high pitched and whiny to me, and it put me off the character completely. I may have felt differently if I had read the beginning of the book first and then listened later, but I didn’t.
Overall, 4.5 stars out of five. Highly recommend.
My thanks to Jay Pellegrin for the audio review copy via NetGalley, for which I willingly give my own opinion. I would like to note that I did purchase a print copy of this book before I received the complementary audio review copy. After finishing, I’m not sorry I did. I would definitely buy it again if I could go back and do it all over.
Very much enjoyed the audiobook version of the Wizard's Masquerade. The story starts off with a bang, drawing you into a magical medieval world filled with interesting creatures and demons.
You follow Leyna and her fellow wizard school graduates on their journey toward their rewarding careers, but not all is what Leyna expects. She's plunged into a world of court intrigue, spies, mass murder, and a little romance. The scenes between Jester and Leyna were some of my favourite interactions. It was nice seeing the seriousness teased out of Leyna.
The romance was well done and not exaggerated, their slow progression was welcomed. Leyna does come off as innocent and immature but I suppose that would be expected after being away at school with limited life experiences for 7 years.
I do wish there would have been more variety used with the spells. You'd think that they would know many more and the author hints at one character having well over 100 in his repertoire, but Leyna always seems to perform the same ones over and over. This was disappointing. Some parts do drag on a little when things are repeated multiple times, but overall a very immersive world! I truly can't wait for the next book.
I have to start by saying I've read this book before but when I saw the audiobook available I had to jump at it and I'm so glad I did.
Kathryn Vinclaire is absolutely brilliant and the perfect choice to bring Wizards Masquerade to life, after listening to this I can't imagine anyone else bringing this wonderful world I love so much to life.
If you're looking for a fantasy to lose yourself in that will have you wishing magic was real and anything is possible this is the audiobook for you. It draws you in and makes you feel like you're part of this fantastic world and I for one can't wait for book two.
I've included my original review of the book for anyone interested.
I am obsessed, I don't know how much more there is to say, I started this and finished it in two days and loved every second of it. Beautiful, haunting, dark, and magical, everything I look for in fantasy is within these pages, from the sweeping scenery to magical creatures I'm in love with this book.
We begin with a trio of friends competing to finish their education at a magical academy so that they can begin their adult lives, through good and bad, life and death we see our characters blossom into the adults they were always meant to be. Without saying too much I'll say this, Layla has lived a lifetime and died a thousand little deaths in this coming-of-age saga.
Having her trust and faith tested more than once we get to see her evolution just as her magic is evolving.
In the end, this book is the perfect setup for the second book and I can't wait to get my hands on that one. After reading this it feels like Jay Pellegrin could write anything and I'd just say ok sign me up.
Thank you to NetGalley and Pellegrin Books for this beautiful book, I've voluntarily read and reviewed it and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Kathryn Vinclaire did an amazing job bringing Jay’s words to life in Wizard’s Masquerade.
Kathryn’s voice was excellent for Leyna! As well as all the other characters. Each voice was unique and she did an great job with the male voices.
I loved the world that Jay built and I was able to visualize everything.
I loved seeing Quinn’s and Grace’s relationship with Leyna grow throughout the story. It loved the slow-burn from Leyna and the Jester. His banter was so fun and I’m glad that she tried to fight back. There is so much mystery throughout the book- who killed the King, who is the Jester, who is the secret admirer (who gifted Floofy), who is behind everything.
I loved that Leyna started as a perfect huskarl and throughout the book she starts to question everything and starts ‘thinking for herself’.
I can’t wait until the next part of the story.
This was a fast-paced fantasy adventure about a girl. Leyna, who learns that everything is not necessarily what it seems as she navigates her entry to adulthood. The worldbuilding here is very thorough, where learning magic requires an expensive education and is limited to those with the ability to fund or garner a sponsor.
This was a long audiobook, but it didn't feel very long and went by quickly. The narrator was great, although I didn't like all of her voices. Leyna's love interest, the jester, didn't have a single fully-candid and honest conversation with her, but she didn't find that to be any kind of deterrent.to developing the feels for him.
If there was a sequel, I would definitely be on board.
Thank you to NetGalley for letting me listen to this book for free after the release date.
A refreshing take on romance. I honestly love the rise in high fantasy romance. It makes me want more! I really loved the two leads and the descriptions. It's just a great book that left me wanting more.
The mystery elements were fine but I ultimately listened to (and later bought) this book for the magic system and romance. Both of which were just what I needed.
All in all, can't wait for book 2!
I’m hooked as always !!! When it comes to this book, I’m head over heels in love with this story and these characters !!! And this time the narrator made the whole experience ten times better !!! I’m absolutely hooked !!! I can’t stop thinking how this story can go on !!!
An easy 5 star for me, the audiobook is beyond amazing. I was worried about the Jestie and Quinn and Grace being brought to life and I was worrying for nothing.
As for the audiobook it’s amazing and our narrator brings all out favorites to life perfectly. I can not stress the amount of story this has and I never once felt tired or like it was slow, I don’t know it was just what I needed (I always worry when reading a book that the audiobook will ruin it but no no no this is great))
The banter is so perfect and the relationships and magic are impressively immersive.
I just want more of it all the demons are such a great bit to the magic side of things
I could read a whole book on the magic of this world
My book review and my review for the audiobook are about the same
I openly admit I requested this based on the little snippet and the cover. I thought I will get through this for those two things alone.
Instead I found a main character whom I loved in all her little ways, a great world and magic system and also a confusing use of demons.
This book gave me the same feelings the Mirror Visitor series gave me and something I didn’t think I’d find again.
Also Jestie I love you.
Leyna was a delight and while some of it was a bit confusing and distracted I followed along with the magic system and the good times of huskarls and royal life. I feel like I could also feel the chamberlain’s hand every-time it was mentioned and I did not enjoy that ha
It was a fun ride with a little bit of spice but nothing too much and also the longing
I’ll revisit this and can’t wait for book two
I listened while I did my first read of Wizard’s Masquerade and I loved it! Hearing the emotion in the narrators voice really helped me visualize the situations better! Especially in high pressure situations, it just made the entire reading experience so much more entertaining and really helped me fully immerse myself in the story.
Interesting book! That cover is gorgeous and the storyline is interesting!
To me the story was dense. I felt like there was such a cool premise and great characters but I did not fall for the characters like I hoped I would. I did like the writing and the story though so I feel conflicted. If there were more books out in the series by now I would have moved on to the next one immediately. That ending was great. I think the start was just a little too slow for me. There were all the elements that I love but I can't say that I loved it as much as I hoped.
As I mentioned I felt that the premise was great but it was a little slow. There needed to be more for me to be hooked on the story. I did not feel as invested as I wished I did. That being said I am interested to see where the story goes and how it develops. I think that I can see myself learning more about their world and then I will be more intrigued.
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this story.
Huskarl Duology #1
In the first part of this tale, we get to know Leyna and her friends. Leyna studied for seven years to be a wizard; her dream was to serve with the Royal Guard. Things looked shaky when her leg was injured in an accident during the Maze Exam.
Around chapter 9 or 10 we meet the Jester. There was a strong connection between Leyna and Jester. It was delightful to watch it slowly develop.
The court was attacked, and the King was killed. Leyna is attempting to investigate the attack and bring the culprit to justice. This part of the plot kept me turning the pages. There were plenty of twists and turns.
I am on the fence concerning this book and whether it gets a 4 or 5 star. This book is really long and few people have the attention span to read 500 plus pages. I really enjoyed the romance between Leyna and Jester. Jester was likable and yet sneaky. Like Leyna I wasn’t sure whether Jester was a bad guy or good guy. Leyna was gullible, egotistical, immature, indulged and not the sharpest tack in the box. Leyna was only able to focus on one thing at a time. She thought she wanted to be a Huskarl but I am not sure she totally understood what she would sacrifice to achieve that goal. The world building was wonderfully done. But I would have enjoyed exploring it more.
A big thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
Wizard's Masquerade is a great blend of fantasy romance and murder mystery. It was a slow burn with hints of enemies to lovers which is my favorite book trope! Leyna is a very enjoyable lead and I loved how her character developed throughout the story. Her somewhat grey morality was refreshing when compared to most fantasy heroines I've read about recently. She is strong and flawed and I adore her for it. The plot was captivating had a binge worthy pace. I had trouble trying to guess who the mastermind behind the court massacre was, and this story did an amazing job at making me second guess myself over and over again. I might have some lingering trust issues for a while because it seemed like every character I started to trust had ulterior motives. The Jester was such a charming and dangerous character. Everything about him was swoon worthy, especially his eyes.
The only problem I had with this book was the world building. We were given a good amount of history for the world but not nearly enough description of the topography of the world. The magic system wasn't defined very well and I wish knew more about how it works and its history. Those two details aside, I absolutely loved this by the end and I'll be patiently waiting for the sequel so I can continue the story.
And I would like to request my own Floofy. Everyone need their own Floofy.
To hear a story that I love, being told in such a magnificent way was amazing. Kathryn brought to life the book magically with her voice. I loved it so much.
A fantasy romance that left me wanting more, I loved reading this story. It was well written and the cover itself is eye-catching.
A whodunit mystery with a splash of magic, it was a great adventure, I loved the moments between the Jester and Leyna, they were great characters that made the story all the more amazing. I cannot wait for the second book, which I know will be just as great as this one.
This book focuses on an aspiring wizard on a journey to achieve her goals and uncover mysteries. This is well written with great pacing, it has a good plot with characters to love and others to hate. It kept me wanting to uncover what was happening throughout.
Adored this audiobook. Thank you so much NetGalley. I read the book first and loved the epic fantasy. Full of rich characters and an interesting storyline I was instantly drawn in. The audiobook made the story even better! The narrator did an incredible job bringing Lena to life. I would have loved a male narrator for Jesters character but the story didn’t suffer by not having one.
Thank you for letting me listen to this amazing audiobook!
There is fantasy, magic, mystery, romance... everything packed together perfectly. First we get to explore a bit of the magic school, then the court. There's questions to be answered and secrets to be revealed. And the magic system is intriguing.
The beginning hooked me and the story kept its grip on me. I love that the main character was flawed but still likeable enough. We need more FMCs like Leyna.
The book is well written. The story is refreshing. The audiobook narrator is the perfect fit to the story. This was exactly what I was looking for!
And I have to mention the cover... SO BEAUTIFUL!
I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves to read romantic fantasy. Just don't expect the romance to drive the plot.
Masks and secret identities
Strong female MC
An elaborate story and world fillerd with wizards, royalties, guards, magic and maybe some jester delight. It is a little bit long for my liking but it helped me get to know a character more as well as a vivid picture of what’s going on. Looking forward to reading the sequel!
Read 50 % on physical book and 50% on audiobook. It’s enjoyable both ways!
🌟 My thoughts:
Wow! I adored this book. From the way that magic is tied to demons to the romance and the struggle to uncover who is behind a plot against the king and queen, I was totally invested. In particular, I loved the jester’s taunting and how he gets under Leyna’s skin. I was hoping for more page time with Quinn, but I have a feeling book two will deliver on that. I also enjoyed reading about Leyna’s struggle with right and wrong and how she comes to question everything she’s always believed in.
And a man of mystery is one of my favorite character types. Jester was fantastic.
I do think the one romance scene we get is out of character for rule follower Leyna, and I really wanted more scenes! And the ending broke my heart, but also kept me wanting more and eager to grab the next installment.
🎧 In regards to the audiobook itself, narrator Kathryn Vinclaire delivers a flawless performance. She wowed me, and I’m now looking forward to searching out more of her performances.
🌟 Grab this one if you like:
♥️ Court intrigue
♥️ An aching slow burn
♥️ A woman who goes for her dreams
I adore this book, and leapt at the chance to experience the audiobook. It did not disappoint! The narrator was perfect, and the quality was excellent. I cannot recommend this book enough, in any format you prefer!
I read this book a couple months ago and was THRILLED to see it coming in as an audiobook. It’s one of those stories you cannot stop thinking about after you’ve read it, and really this was the perfect excuse to reread it again so soon.
I think the narrator did PHENOMENALLY., She captured Leyna so well and she really brought her to life for me. This is something I HIGHLY recommend listening to if you’re nervous reading such a thick book. It’s about 24?25? Hours long. It’s something that you can enjoy over a decent time span though. With the holidays here, I wasn’t able to listen as often as I wanted, but I could still jump back into it very easily once I had the free time.
My first time experiencing this story was as an ARC, so I was thrilled to see all the changes Jay made before officially publishing. My original rating was 4.75, but I’m happy to give it a solid 5 now.
Cannot recommend this story and world Pellegrin created enough.
Original Review for reference:
"Could she reimagine herself and her beliefs? Because if she could, it was like the opening of a mental portcullis, the lowering of a drawbridge, and there, beyond the rigid walls she'd built for herself, a world of possibility awaited.
It was liberating to realize that her past self's convictions did not have to dictate her future."
Leyna is days away from completing her exams, passing her 7 year long studies at the Wizard Guild, and her dreams of being a Wizard and Huskarl, a guard to the royal family.
Everything about her dream isn't playing out the way she had envisioned all her life. Starting with an accident that almost set her back a year, that perfect dream is cracking. After finally getting her offer letter to be a Huskarl, Leyna leaves the Guild with Grace and Quinn, friends from her class, to head to the castle and accept her official Huskarl title from the king.
Only a couple days after arriving, word arrives that the king, queen, and their entire court and guards were attacked while traveling. With her world completely thrown off its axis, she is determined to figure out what happened.
The more she digs, the more she begins to question everything she's ever known. It isn't much easier with the Jester constantly around. She knows he has secrets, and is possibly dangerous, but can't help but be drawn to him. Leyna has to figure out who to trust, including unraveling her life and ambitions as a Huskarl.
MY GOD THIS BOOK IS CAPTIVATING!! Jay Pellegrin's world takes me right back to the years of reading fantasy as a teenager, but higher stakes, and definitely with an adult spin on it. We have magic schools, a castle, spells, wizards, shapeshifters, demons, royal hierarchy, secrets and betrayals, AND A JESTER!!
This is a world you really can immerse yourself in while reading, and characters that develop really well throughout. Pellegrin admits herself that Leyna is a "strong flawed female protagonist" and it's a perfect description for her. She has a one track mind, only dreaming of ever being a Huskarl, and she is naïve, selfish, jealous, spoiled, and infuriating when the book starts. Everything that is happening around her forces her to dismantle her belief system, and it really isn't easy for anyone, especially with Leyna, it's like pulling teeth. By the end it's like a huge sigh of relief, she had wonderful character development and her story is set up perfect for more growth into the second book of this duology.
The shining star of this book is Jester. We are told right off the bat that he is dangerous and charming. Both so true, and he is the perfect MC in a story with lies and secrets. We are along with Leyna on the journey and get to watch her figure out how much she's going to let him in. He is snarky, rude, and dazzling to say the least. I was constantly looking forward to any scene with him in it, because it really forced Leyna to think and evolve. I fell in love with him and I really hope there is a lot more of him in the next book and the chance for them really explore their feelings.
The story is very long and could definitely do with a lot of trimming for some parts that felt repetitive, but Pellegrin announced on Instagram that they worked with editors and are cutting it down, so I have high hopes that the published copy will fix this issue. I definitely think we could have gotten a little more back story from the side characters, especially Grace, Quinn, and Seth. Their relationships with Leyna would give her that extra bit of dimension that I think she could benefit from.
Overall this is a fantastic first book, and Medival Fantasy Romance. I am 100% invested and will be reading the second one. This first part of the duology is out soon, and I think is a great read if you want a longish romantic fantasy that has reverse grumpy x sunshine, enemies to lovers, lots of banter, a flawed (BUT EVOLVING) FMC, dances in castles, magic/wizards and a smidge of spice.
UPDATE 09/23/22: Since reading this copy, the author has made many changes based on feedback provided by readers! From the author's suggestion, I went back and reread the end of the book and absolutely loved the changes. Overall there is more jester in the story, and minor story changes that made the book flow better! I will be (not so) patiently waiting for the second half of this duology.
I really enjoyed this book!
The romance was great but it didnt rely too heavily on that and the story itself was really intriguing! The world building was well done and super interesting. Ill be picking up a hard copy of this book!. Look forward to reading more from this author!
A fantastical first installment to the duology, with phenomenal narration that truly brings Leyna's story to life. I'll be looking forward to where the characters take us in the second book!
I really enjoyed the narrator and felt the voices for each character were unique and distinctive. I also enjoyed the story and struggled to press pause because I constantly wanted to know what happened next.
Well i really loved this one! The slow burn, the mystery, the magic and the demons. And the wonderful ending! 😆 but, I might be the only one who loves open endings. I love for the anticipation. And the spice is really nice!
Thank you NetGalley and publishers for the opportunity to review this book!!
I had so much fun listening to this book!!! I highly recommend it!!! The narrator did such a good job. I think that adding a male narrator would’ve also been great as well. Maybe for book 2?
I really liked the world building and the overall atmosphere. I do love a medieval inspired fantasy! I found the plot to be intriguing and although I was able to guess some things before they were revealed that didn’t negatively impact my enjoyment at all.
The romance parts were perfectly blended into the story. Also, can I just say how obsessed I am with the slow-burn romance between Leyna and the jester!!! 😍😍😍
I can’t wait to see where the story goes in the next book. I hope to learn more about the world, the magic, and the characters…The second book can’t be published soon enough!!!
Thank you to @netgalley and @jay_pellegrin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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