Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 29, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+
Pages: 352 Format: eARC Source: NG
I acquired this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. This does not impact my thoughts and opinions in any way.
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.
Being a fantasy fan I jumped at the chance to read Linsey Miller’s Mask of Shadows. It’s got revenge and assassins set in a kingdom that’s on the edge of war. How could I not pick this one up? This book has go a lot going for it especially when it comes to Sal. Our gender-fluid protagonist is a thief trying to become the next member of The Left Hand, a super exclusive group of assassins serving the Queen.
And these trials are no joke folks. Competitors are out to kill each other while training to become the best they can be. From physical tasks like running, swordplay, and archery to the finer subjects like etiquette, literacy, and healing, Sal is under a constant barrage of attention and demands. Thankfully Miller doesn’t shy away from the actuality of assassins with lots of violence and action.
Revenge is Sal’s motivation and that’s where the politics and worldbuilding come into play. The Queen has brought together two nations at odds with one another but not all members of society are pleased. Unfortunately Sal’s home nation of Nacea was destroyed by shadow magic when this occurred and they hold a bit of a grudge. Given all this, being a member of The Left Hand may be the only way Sal can get what they want.
While I totally enjoyed this one I found a couple of issues that irked me. In the middle of the novel there was a lot of drag but then at the end everything hurtled at a break neck pace. I also felt like most of the side characters lacked any depth which is probably why I felt a disconnect at certain points. Plus I want to know about the magic that has disappeared. Hopefully in the sequel will get more.
Overall Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller was a compelling story with lots of action and emotion. While it may not be my fave fantasy ever, there was plenty to enjoy within these pages and Sal’s journey was definitely intense. With political intrigue, assassins, and possible enemies at every turn, this one is a great choice for fantasy fans. Definitely recommend giving Mask of Shadows a shot!
Are you interested in Mask of Shadows? In need of training motivation?
Let me know in the comments below!