Behind the Bitmask

Endian Project Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
422 Pages
Reviewed on 11/18/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Behind the Bitmask is a work of recent urban fantasy fiction by author Jessica Kagan, and forms the first novel in the Endian Project series. Recommended for mature audiences due to its graphic violence and suggestive content, this exciting and intriguing novel mixes modern-day technomancy with the heroes and villains of classic fantasy to produce a demonic and delightful turn of cataclysmic events. Our hero is Charlotte Metaxas, who runs a coven of occult programmers by the dark of night, and embarks on an incredible journey in a magical urban underworld when she suffers a personal tragedy. What results is a wild ride of tech, turmoil, and total action and adventure.

I love to see interesting genres being mashed together, and author Jessica Kagan has created some really fantastic concepts to form the backbone of this well built and well established first-in-series novel. The worldbuilding around Charlotte and her secret underground coven brings her to life in the shadows of an atmospheric fantasy world, so when we start to see daemons and the like emerging, it all feels realistic and credible (even the cartoon platypus). This bizarre and dangerous world had me hooked from the first few pages, with intriguing characters that burst out of the book like videogame villains, but also slower scenes that serve to characterize and give authenticity to Charlotte and those who are dead set against her. Overall, Behind the Bitmask is an excellent and innovative modern fantasy work for those who are interested in embarking on something truly unique.

Christian Sia

Charlotte is a high priestess of a coven of occult programmers, a job she does at night. But she has a day job. She secretly dreams of establishing herself as the Queen of the Underworld. But her dreams are shattered when her master, Aux, a virtual character, is destroyed by Sigmar the Conqueror, a cartoon platypus. She invites the enemy to a duel and loses. Now she hides in the underworld, a hostile world that is being invaded by greedy humans, planning her revenge. But can she survive in this world long enough to have a chance at revenge?

Behind the Bitmask opens the exciting Endian Project series by Jessica Kagan, a novel that creates a world that is exciting to explore. The characters are sophisticated and the protagonist is humanly flawed, a character who, like everyone else, dreams of freedom. She has a strong desire for power but she is robbed of her power. Now how determined is she to regain it? That's the secret strength of the character and the plot. The world she navigates is well-imagined and fraught with danger and perils.

The reader is gripped and wants to know what happens next to her. Jessica Kagan makes it real, infusing the story with human reality. I enjoyed the crisp writing, the storytelling art, and engaging dialogues. The first person narrative is superb and it creates the dramatic impact that keeps readers engaged. The author's gift for character is exemplified in the writing. Behind the Bitmask is a great opening for an interesting series, featuring science and magic and daemons operating at the fringes of human life. It is an exciting story that is skillfully written.

Ruffina Oserio

The first book in the Endian Project series by Jessica Kagan, Behind the Bitmask is a fascinating urban fantasy that follows Charlotte Metaxas. From the outside, she is an accomplished accountant but in the shadows, she leads a coven of occult programmers as high priestess. She revels in the power and the glory until her master is destroyed by Sigmar the Conqueror, a cartoon platypus who also takes over her coven. A challenge to a duel only makes things worse and Charlotte escapes to the dark underworld where her master came from. This isn't a hospitable place for her as it is being overrun by humans who will stop at nothing to benefit from it. Here, in this strange and dangerous world, she plots her revenge. Can she succeed this time with the odds stacked against her?

It is interesting how the author melds two worlds, the virtual and the physical. From the start, readers encounter Charlotte and members of her coven interacting with a computer program and in five minutes an explosive happening occurs. From this moment on, the action is intense. The narrative evokes powerful forces that are at play in the universe and explores the strength of the human mind. This novel got me thinking as I read about the intersection between magic, science, and the physical world. The boundary between computer science and magic blurs as the story progresses.

Jessica Kagan's writing is thrilling and the prose is delightful. The characters are well-developed and the originality in the concept and the plot points set this novel apart. The conflict is strong. Charlotte is a woman who thought she had everything until she is stripped of the most essential thing in her life. This is a pulsating novel that puts the reader on the edge. Intelligently plotted and deftly written, Behind the Bitmask kept my eyes on the pages until the very last one.