Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 29th 2017
Series: Mask of Shadows #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
I Needed to Win.They Needed to Die.
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.
But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
Mask of Shadows is the first book in an untitled series by debut author Linsey Miller. I have been loving fantasies lately, so when I saw this book, my interest was immediately piqued. I loved the idea behind the story. Basically, the queen has a different ring for every finger of her left hand- an opal, ruby, emerald. Each of the rings symbolize one of the Queen’s personal assassins. When the Queen’s Opal dies, there are auditions AKA a competition to fill the spot. Insert our main character Sal.
The book was a little Three Dark Crowns and hunger games- esque because the competitors have to kill each other off to win the spot as the Queen’s Opal. There were some pretty graphic, and interesting, deaths in this novel. I also really enjoyed the twist of the competition- no one can be caught killing another competitor. If you are caught you are disqualified (and probably never to be heard from again, kind of disqualified.) I thought this rule made things extra interesting. Most of the book were the various stages of the competition, and served to lay the foundation for the rest of the series. We also got to get some insight into the political turmoil of the various countries in this world. I think book two is going to be even better than the first one because of this. Now that we know what is going on, I bet book two will be action packed and will move us to different scenery and a change of pace from this book, since most of the story took place at court, where the bulk of the competition was held.
Sal is a very interesting main character. Sal is gender fluid, which is the first time I have seen this done in a YA fantasy novel. So this was both a positive and a negative for me. Positive, I loved that Sal was such a diverse character, and I found Linsey Miller’s description of gender-fluid Sal to be excellent. But it was also a negative because for a while, I felt like that was all anyone was talking about when they were talking about or to Sal. I was ok with it at first, but once it started to infiltrate numerous conversations I started to become a little bored of it being the main topic of conversation. I am going to see how Sal is handled in the second book. Right now, I am pleased with Sal but it is right on the edge. So I am hoping that we discuss and learn about other aspects of who Sal is, rather than just being gender-fluid.
The plot of mask of Shadows was the real winner for me. I am interested in continuing on in this fantasy series because I think it has a lot of potential to develop into a really strong series. Fans of to-the-death competitions will enjoy Mask of Shadows. I enjoyed this ya Fantasy and I look forward to reading more from author Linsey Miller.
P.S. The ending of this book TOTALLY SURPRISED ME! That’s all I am going to say about that…. @BookBriefs #Review #MaskofShadows by @LinseyMiller @SourcebooksFire #yaFanatsy #Genderfluid MC Click To Tweet
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