The Masked Truth Review
“Everything’s going fine. At least, as fine as one might expect from a hostage negotiation.”
– Kelley Armstrong, The Masked Truth
Psychology meets its match in Kelley Armstrong’s newest standalone novel The Masked Truth. When a game is played without rules, it breaks the boundaries between black and white.
Riley Vasquez is a girl suffering from PTSD and crippling self-doubt. A simple babysitting job had turned into a nightmare when the parents of the little girl she was watching are brutally murdered downstairs as she hides upstairs. Hero and survivor become tag names for Riley after the ordeal. She hates the praise, the pity, and the encouragement. No one understands. It is time to move on. But who is Riley Vasquez, she doesn’t know anymore.
Max Cross has always been different. As a child he was a genius with a prospective future and could be anything he wanted. He had courage, ego, and friends. He had it all… that is until he decided to choke out the demon possessing his best friend. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, life altering mental illness, Max is stuck under the watchful, condescending eye of his mother who believes she knows best while simultaneously afraid of her “dangerous” son. The medicine helps, right?
Neither Max or Riley wanted to attend a therapy retreat at a place that resembled more of a prison than a place to find yourself. But after the insistence of their counselors, their parents drop them off and they find themselves stuck in a building without windows, creature comforts, phones, and locked doors. To add onto the torture, there are five other troubled teens with “issues” along for the ride. Riley and Max think maybe they can get through it, until men with guns burst into their group therapy session and start making demands. So much for a relaxing weekend.
Right from the start The Masked Truth took me as a hostage *pun intended* from the action packed scenes to the psychological turmoil that Riley and Max experience. Alternating perspectives, something I usually dislike, transitioned smoothly and really helped readers to connect to the plot. While I was sympathetic to Riley, I think she could have had a better emotional transition then she did. I wanted something more that seemed just out of reach. Meanwhile my heart was taken by Max. Confused and arrogant, Max had his life turned upside down and his thoughts, feelings, and self-doubt seemed so real. The language of this novel really hit home the realism of mental illness and how everyone is effected by a diagnosis. Then there was the hostage situation that amplified the emotion and the stakes. I wonder what the novel would have been like without the hostage subplot.
So in the end the plot twist, revelations, and how the story wraps up made me wish for a book two. Everything reached a conclusion but what about Max and Riley? What happens next?
To find out more about Kelley and her books, click here!