Review of The King’s Mask by Melody Wingfield

Short Story Reviews / Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

A man learns that a just king comes at a price.

That’s all I have to say about the plot of The King’s Mask by Melody Wingfield. This is a wonderful short piece that pays a bit of homage to The Man in the Iron Mask, though with a different twist. Ms. Wingfield deftly uses symbolism and double-speak to set up an atmosphere that is both creepy and a tiny bit hopeful. The setting of frivolity at the royal ball adds the perfect antithetic setting for what is to come.

But I think the best part of the whole story is the system of politics that the “first king” set in place. I won’t spoil it, but Ms. Wingfield developed a fantastic system that is both simple and elegant. This system defines the story and brilliantly sets the stage for each character’s motives. I thought this was wonderfully well done!

The only element that I wish had been a little more developed is the scene where the main character receives his mask. The first section of the story spends a fair amount of time detailing that the main character’s appearance is, at best, plain, but is probably much worse, given the emphasis that is placed on his voice (he’s a minstrel). When he receives the mask, a glorious and beautiful piece, I would have liked to have seen more contrast between the mask and the face, and a little more ceremony in the main character putting the mask on. This moment, which feels like it should be very meaningful, feels glossed over in a short paragraph. Admittedly, there could have been a word count limit, as this piece was entered in a competition (taking 3rd place, great job!!) so I’m inclined to believe this was less an oversight and more a difficult decision Ms. Wingfield had to make – a choice I’m not unfamiliar with. Given that I’m not sure anything else in the story could have been cut, I can live with this part.

This was a wonderful piece! I think everyone should give it read – it’s quick and enthralling. Check out The King’s Mask by Melody Wingfield right here.

Official Kristine’s BRF Rating:

Photo courtesy of Serkan Turk via Unsplash.

2 Replies to “Review of The King’s Mask by Melody Wingfield”

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to review my short story. It’s my first official review, so it’s special!

    You were absolutely right about the word count limit — deciding what to cut when you’re up against a hard wall like that… very difficult. It was critical for me to set up the backstory for the later reveals. 250 more words, and I’d probably have handled the mask arriving like an ugly duckling/swan moment. Word counts are the most difficult thing in competitions. But, as Stephen King says, “Kill your darlings.” So, we do.

    My first “5” review! As an emerging author, this made my day.

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