Mask of Shadows (Mask of Shadows Series #1)

Mask of Shadows (Mask of Shadows Series #1)

by Linsey Miller


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"I love every aspect of this amazing book—a genderfluid hero, a deadly contest, and vicious courtly intrigue. Get! Read! Now!" —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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.

More Praise for Mask of Shadows:
A Bustle Most Anticipated YA of 2017!

"Compelling and relatable characters, a fascinating world with dangerous magic, and a dash of political intrigue: Mask of Shadows completely delivered. Fantasy fans will love this book."—Jodi Meadows,New York Timesbestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane

"An intriguing world and a fantastically compelling main character make for a can't-miss debut. Miller's Mask of Shadows will make you glad you're not an assassin—and even gladder Sal is."—Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken and Now I Rise

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492647492
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 08/29/2017
Series: Mask of Shadows Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 370,658
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

A wayward biologist from Arkansas, Linsey previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. She is active in the writing community. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there's coffee. Visit her online at

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Mask of Shadows 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller is the first book in a new fantasy series about a gender fluid pickpocket who joins an elite assassin competition in order to infiltrate and take down the nobles that let his people get massacred. With lots of blood, fights, schemes, and court drama, Mask of Shadows has it all. I really enjoyed reading Mask of Shadows. I thought it was a great beginning to a new fantasy series; especially one with a genderfluid main protagonist which hasn't been done before. Miller's writing and characterization were on point. The world that she has created was immaculate and wondrous. Although the assassin type games have been done before, this one was far better than the ones in the past. I just wish the majority of the story didn't revolve around them. I also quite enjoyed the romance between Sal and Elise. I thought it was adorable and didn't take away from the plot but added a nice human element to it. The plot was very fast paced and was pretty easy to read. The ending few chapters were the highlight for me to be honest. It sets up what could be an explosive next book. I highly recommend Mask of Shadows if you're looking for awesome characters, tons of action and a fantastic ending.
DarqueDreamer More than 1 year ago
Mask of Shadows is full of action and adventure. It will take you on a journey of betrayal and bloodshed. Prepare for murder, double-crossing, political plotting, and intrigue! The Plot: As a highway robber, and a good one at that, Sal wants more from life. Sal wants revenge against the Erlend nobles for the murder of the Nacea people. Sal has an idea of who needs to be targeted, but has no way of getting close to them, until an opportunity arises. Sal finds a poster about an audition for the Queen’s Left Hand (a group of 4 trained, personal assassins) and decides to enter. Little does Sal know that it is a fight to death. Can Sal win the competition, the heart of a kind Erlend noble girl, and get revenge? The beginning of this one had a rough start for me. It felt a little too forced, confusing, and slightly boring. It took me about 10% of the book before I finally got in to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the remaining 90%, though. I loved the interesting backstory of Sal. I loved the idea of the Queen’s Left Hand. And, even though the competition thing is used a lot in YA books, I loved the idea and point of the competition and the things that I felt made it different from books like The Hunger Games. I feel like the competition had a good reason behind it. The Queen was on the hunt for the best assassin in the country. An assassin must be fast, strong, skilled in multiple areas, and discreet. The rules of the competition were quite intriguing, and fit nicely with the search for the new member of The Left Hand. The beginning of the book was a little disappointing, but easy to get past. I felt that the backstory and world history was thrown in too early, and in a confusing way. I also felt that Sal’s character seemed odd in the beginning, like they weren’t quite themselves. Once past this awkwardness, I was able to enjoy the story and Sal. Sal was a fantastic character. They were brave, strong, curious, and dead set on a mission. They were always up for learning new things and working on their weaknesses. My favorite thing about Sal was how they went about describing themselves and how they dressed in the moment of feeling. Sal was a gender-fluid character, meaning when they didn’t feel like they conformed to just one gender. I really admire they way that Sal’s character was just naturally Sal, and it wasn’t made to be a book selling point. Yes, it is in the synopsis, but it felt natural to the story, and not forced. I also loved our supporting character, Maud. Maud was our Darby to Lady Helen (Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman). She was sneaky, kind, curious, moral, and determined to make a better life for herself. She paired well with Sal and brought humor and intrigue to the book and competition. I would definitely recommend this book and I will be waiting for the next installment! Was it the best? No. I would have liked more world building and less confusion in the beginning of the book, but it was still thrilling and enjoyable! I would give it 3.5-4 stars. Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with this free Advanced Reading E-copy in exchange for my honest review.
Cullen18 More than 1 year ago
I really like this book and it was different being in the head of a gender fluid character and was filled with lots of blood and killing just like I wanted but with competitors having to follow certain rules make it more interesting. I love how Sal was vary smart and lone wolf so they thought everything though and was not just killing on impulse or just becouse they could. It was an easy world to follow and had funny and likable characters even some of the characters I started out hating (Ruby) grow on me by the end. The vary small part of this book that had romance in it I really enjoyed...I SHIP IT!...CANT WAIT FOR BOOK 2!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Things I Liked - Sal/Sallot Leon, our protagonist - Beyond the fact that Sal is genderfluid and their genderfluidity wasn't the main plot of the book (and that it was never alluded to what Sal's biological sex was), I really liked Sal. They have multiple motivations for signing up for the auditions for becoming Opal (revenge, love for their Queen, a way of escaping the life they currently led). Small criticism of how Miller handled the genderfluid aspect; I liked how how they presented themselves was how they asked to be referenced (feminine clothing = she/her, masculine clothing = he/him), it was an interesting way of having it in the book. However, what would Sal have to dress like to have people refer to them as "they/them"? - The auditions themselves -I really enjoyed how the trials were set up, how it was encouraged to kill others while they slept (which I know is a major criticism of a lot of these types of books like, "Why don't they just kill each other and not have to do all these trials?") so I like how killing other was encouraged with some ground rules set up so it's not a blood bath on the first night. - The assassins were all very fun and I enjoyed how they all had their own specialties. I hope we get to see more of them in Ruin of Stars. I hope we get to know them better, as during the auditions they couldn't truly be themselves as they were more so judges. -The ROMANCE, oh man, it was so good. Things I Didn't Like/Things I wanted - I wanted a map soooooo bad. Usually I roll my eyes if an indie book has a map because for some reason I think its pretentious? But now I understand, after not having a map but needing one, that they are very useful. Yes, the book really only takes place in one location, all the politics talk would've been easier to understand with a map to know where territories fall/lie. - Speaking of politics, as is apparently the case with every YA fantasy book I read, I was confused by the politics in this book. It became clearer as I read, but I felt like it took longer to parse out, if that makes sense? The worst was trying to keep the names in my head straight, but that could very well just be a me-thing. Overall, I do say give this book a try. I was entertained the whole way through and I'm already considering a reread to pick up what I missed the first time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took me a while between reading this book and reviewing it, because I just… I just loved it. Which is great, but admittedly doesn’t make for much of a review. Our hero is a genderfluid thief named Sal, who I will refer to here by the pronoun they for simplicity’s sake. Sal is very clear that their gender should be referred to by the clothes they choose to wear on any given day, a point which is made explicitly clear several times. Whether or not their expression is respected is a mark for or against the characters responding to them. (I believe there is only one character who expressly misgenders Sal, and yeah, we don’t like him. While I’m under the impression that badguy-misgenders-character is a bit of a trope, it fits with his overall disrespect for, well, everyone. It’s a disrespect that is shown in enough variety of ways to that this particular one doesn’t stand out to me.) Now Sal has an Agenda, namely revenge against the people who allowed monsters to massacre the population of their small nation. This agenda leads them to participate in an often fatal audition to become a member of the Left Hand of the Queen, as one of the four masked assassins (Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, and Opal) who serve to quietly ensure the queen’s peaceful power is maintained. Did I mention I love this book? While the premise isn’t all that novel, the way it’s done is really something special. It excels in a number of small ways that make it very strong overall. First, all the auditioners are numbered, which is an easy way to lead to confusion and, at least for me, make it difficult to differentiate them and make them feel like whole people. However, all the important auditions are clearly characterized and fleshed out enough that I became very attached to some of them. The auditions themselves are also refreshingly equalizing. The assassins go out of their way to provide training to the auditioners to help the less educated and skilled keep up with the better prepared (and often wealthier or better connected) auditioners. Not only are the auditioners well-presented as fully believable characters, even with their numbers and masks, so are the assassins. Emerald, Amethyst, and Ruby have a seamless rapport and absolutely believable friendship. They work together exactly as well as people whose lives often depend on each other need to. (Here’s where I declare my undying love for Ruby, the man of my heart, the assassin of my dreams, the red mask of my soul). Overall, Mask of Shadows has a clean, easy to devour in 24 hours (if you’re me) arc, a sweet little slow-burn romance that builds nicely throughout, and a twist so cleverly set up I really should have seen it coming. Which are the best kind. Sal is a completely immersive, complex, and sympathetic protagonist, with a vibrant cast to support them. The worldbuilding engaging, very smoothly laid out, totally a world I’d love to spend more time in. Preferably with 500% more Ruby. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this novel. I liked it so much, that I pre ordered the next one before I finished it. I got it in audio book format. The narration is done by Deryn Edwards. She does a fantastic job of bringing Linsey Miller's characters to life. There is no trouble telling who is who. Accents and pace are perfect. The world building and character development was good. I do wish there was more development of the Left Hand. An aside of them talking among themselves or something, but still there is enough to know them. The story kept me interested through out.
Magdalyn_Ann More than 1 year ago
The moment I heard that Mask of Shadows had a genderfluid main character, I knew I needed to get my hands on it, whether for reviewing purposes or just pre-ordering it to have and to hold. Then when I learned Mask of Shadows was a fantasy assassin fight to the death story, I was already in love. Fantasy is a genre close to my heart, one I’ve always loved, but the lack of representation and diverse characters is glaring. In a world where magic and dragons are real, why shouldn’t there be queer characters? Why is a queer main character so unbelievable? Well, that’s a discussion for another blog topic. I had some hesitations about Mask of Shadows, in that Sal would have been the only queer character and that the book would have used their identity as a marketing ploy; it wouldn’t be the first time books or movies have tried to garner queer readers, simply because we were starved for representation. But in reading, all my hesitations were thrown out the window at how well the representation was handled. Mask of Shadows was still an entertaining read and one I think I’ll come back to again and again. If more fantasy books had the representation this one did, I think we queers would be alright.
xokristim More than 1 year ago
I specifically requested this book because I heard it was perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, and she is one of my all time favorite authors. Unfortunately this book just didn’t hit the mark with me. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading it, because I did. The story was just too similar to other fantasy books I’ve read. I did extremely enjoy that the main character Sal was gender fluid, it is something I’ve never seen in fantasy novels, and it was very interesting to me. I did have a very hard time connecting with the characters. I think more of a backstory of all the characters would have helped a lot. Overall I’m in the middle with this book. I enjoyed some parts, rolled my eyes at others (such similar plot lines to many fantasy books I read) and was quite frankly annoyed with other parts. The end was definitely a saving grace for this books and makes me want to pick up the next. I would recommend this book to newer fans of fantasy who haven’t read many others.
TheKnightsWhoSayBook More than 1 year ago
I liked this a lot! The writing sometimes has problems that show the author has a while to go before it's completely polished and some parts were confusing, but overall I loved Sal and the representation they provide, and so many other characters too. The romance especially is sweet and fun to read and there's also plenty of action. I'm excited for the sequel now!
KConig More than 1 year ago
"We are the Left Hand of Our Queen, no one else...We've a sad sorry job that should not exist, but this is our world and we are what we are." * I binge-read Mask of Shadows the night before BTAF and I still can't believe I sat on the egalley that long. It is a super fun read and an incredible book just dripping with morally grey characters and I cannot believe I have to wait to find out what happens next. MoS follow Sal, an orphaned thief, as they compete with elite assassins to become the queen's next Opal and join her team of royal assassins. But as badly as Sal wants to become Opal, they also have a few personal scores to settle with the powerful people who abandoned Sal's homeland and people to slaughter. Bonus points: Sal is gender fluid, and all the #ownvoices reviews I've read agree the rep is flawless. A lot of the negative reviews on Goodreads are cis readers complaining that Sal's being gender fluid didn't "add anything to the story" which is straight BS because nobody would ever say that about a cis character. People need to learn that marginalized characters don't exist to educate privileged readers Anyway. I absolutely loved this book. I'd say if you liked Throne of Glass but cringe at the lack of diversity in it, this book would be a great alternative. Besides, what's not to love about a competition between assassins?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book and its main character, very unique and I look forward to reading more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In a lot of ways, Sal is your traditional sort of hero/heroine. They’re from a poor background, attempting to find a better life while gaining revenge on the people who put them into that sorry situation in the first place. For Sal, this means eliminating everyone who had a hand in the death of their people. On the other hand, Sal is also not like any other hero/heroine I’ve ever run into because they are gender fluid and move easily between their male and female identities. Which, if you’re training to be an assassin, can be extremely handy. Mask of Shadows is an exciting and entertaining novel, taking you through the auditioners’ trials and tribulations as they strive to become the next Opal. I hope that in the next novel we get to learn more about the world that Sal and their contemporaries are living in. What we learned in this novel only made me more curious about the history of their world. I will admit that I felt like the story dragged at times due to all the constant attempts on each other’s lives, but I also understand that was the entire point of the story as well. That said, all these incidents help highlight Sal’s intelligence and adaptability to the situation. I’ve been a fan of fantasy novels for a long time and it’s always nice to find something new and refreshing to read. Something that isn’t like every other novel. Mask of Shadows gave me exactly that.
Beths-Books More than 1 year ago
I loved this book to its core. It had assassins, magical mystery monsters, a selection kind of vibe going on with the trials for the new Opal. Mystery and deceit. Action and a little bit of romance. All the characters really brought a color to the world and each one had their own part in moving the story along. The book kept me entertained from start to finish. Five stars for Linsey Miller's Mask of Shadows. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
WrenReviewer More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Sal is a thief, living in a world complicated by politics and war. Still haunted by the 'shadows', they steal for Grell, but they're tired of it. After stealing from some nobles, Sal finds a flyer that could change their life. If they prove their worth, they can audition to be part of the Queen's Left Hand, a group of assassins that get their namesakes from the rings that the Queen wears. Opal has died, and this may be Sal's chance for a new life, and vengeance. The competition is deadly, and the stakes are high. With a romance blooming and drama between contestants, Sal will be lucky to survive with their heart, and their life. So this book was really awesome. It was close to perfect, I am so happy that I received an ARC from NetGalley! First off, Sal was genderfluid. I am genderfluid, and there are so few people like me in books that its incredibly exciting whenever I come across a nonbinary character! Not to mention the way that Sal's genderfluidity was incorporated into the book.... I loved it because it wasn't the focus of the plot. Sal was casually genderfluid, kinda like how most genderfluid people just wake up and live their lives like everyone else, eh? While I think stories about identity and coming out are great as well, I want to see more of this, more books with nonbinary people just existing as nonbinary individuals, not necessarily on display for their identity. I loved the casual way that Sal's pronouns were discussed, and the way that most characters just complied. It was quite optimistic and a great break from the real world where just the mention of singular "they" will spark a fight. I also loved the way that Sal described genderfluidity and I thought it was really accurate. I won't quote it since this is an ARC and the final manuscript may prove to have minor differences, but when you read the book, you'll get what passage I'm talking about. Anyways, this was an awesome aspect of the novel, I really appreciated the diversity! Then there's Elise, the love interest. Elise is a noble of Erlend, a nation whose people haven't been kind to Sal's people. Elise is smart, assertive, and likeable! At first, Sal is a bit wary of Elise, almost using her, but I love how later in the book they realize their feelings for her! Alongside Elise is the idea that a person is not the sum of their heritage, or their nationality, and I thought that was a really great message. Sal realizes this and it adds to their growth as a person throughout the novel, in my opinion. This just made me love the book, and Sal, more. I also have to mention that there are some emotional scenes in this book. I can't say much without giving it away, but if you get attached to characters, get ready to potentially have your heart shattered! I also loved the beautiful descriptions throughout the novel. Metaphors and such really added to the way I visualized Sal's world. I loved this fantasy world, I loved getting lost in the danger of the shadows and the life that Sal was escaping, and the life they were ultimately working toward. However, this book lost a star because sometimes the world-building was confusing. Maybe this is because I'm new to this type of fantasy, but I had trouble keeping up with all the political drama, national tensions, and historical events. Overall, this was a really awesome fantasy novel!
hermitlibrarian More than 1 year ago
The first thing that drew my attention to this novel was the fact that the main character, Sal, is genderfluid. I've been trying to find more books with such characters and while I wish there were more, this was a decent example and I appreciated Miller's attempt at including a genderfluid person. Something of note: the book isn't about Sal's coming to understand their genderfluidity. They exist as a genderfluid person and that's how it is. A lot of books focus on coming out as a plot point and it gets frustrating after awhile because not every book about a genderfluid, a gay, a trans person has to be about their coming out. Mask of Shadows begins in a very similar manner to a lot of relative books. There's more than a bit of info dumping and the events of the book felt a bit slow to get into as a result. An assassin competition is not exactly a new concept, but I was intrigued with the master of the assassins, the Queen. She was different than your usual intended bad person in that she has done some questionable things, but she's legitimately trying to do the right thing as opposed to a wicked person pretending to be good when they want to watch the world burn. Elise, the love interest, was interesting because while she "looks" like a traditional fairy tale/fantasy princess, she had more gumption than one of those cutouts. Maud, Sal's assigned servant, was one of my favorite secondary characters. She had ambition, smarts, and she did not take crap from the person she was serving. I liked hearing her ideas, watching her maneuver through the insanity that was the competition where, if Sal wins, Maud gets paid. I kind of got confused sometimes with the code names the auditioners used. They were numbered and with so many of them, I had to pay stricter attention than usual. The sinister deeds, the quest for vengeance, the competition to become Opal made for some twisty portions to contend with along with a large cast of assassins. Overall, Mask of Shadows has a lot in common with other fantasy books but it also has enough assets of its own to make for a good read. Things aren't over yet, either, so more Sal adventures in the future may well prove even more interesting than this first book. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
KourtniReads More than 1 year ago
One of the reasons I was drawn to Mask of Shadows is because I love deadly competitions. This book centers around a competition where auditioners compete to become Opal, one of the queen’s assassins. I loved the high stakes, loved seeing the characters battle it out, and loved the tension and suspense of who was going to attack and when. It kept me on the edge of my seat, flipping the pages as rapidly as possible because I had to know what was going to happen. There were parts of the competition that were less focused on killing, where the competitors are expected to learn things like how to detect poisons or how to heal themselves, and those parts were just as interesting to me. Basically, I loved everything about the competition to become Opal. Everything. The other aspect that really pulled me in was that Mask of Shadows was the first YA fantasy I had heard of that had a genderfluid protagonist. Also, just a note here: Sal, the main character, alternates between he/him, she/her, and they/them pronouns throughout the book. Miller has stated that Sal should be referred to as they/them by readers, so those are the pronouns I will use here. I’m not qualified to speak on the accuracy or sensitivity of how genderfluidity is represented here, but several genderfluid and nonbinary reviewers have said it was represented well. I also appreciated that although Sal’s gender identity is a part of the story (meaning it isn’t ignored), it’s not used as a plot device either. Sure, there are a couple of times where they are misgendered, but they always challenge it and there aren’t any huge scenes where it’s a big problem or anything. For the most part, genderfluidity is just a part of who Sal is. Sal was such a fantastic character and they grow so much. They start off as this very shy and independent person who doesn’t want anything to do with other people. They’re there to win the competition so they can get revenge. But by the end of the book, they’ve made meaningful connections with others. Seeing Sal go through so much development was wonderful and I was rooting for them throughout the entire story. I thought the world-building was interesting, although that’s probably the one part of the story that I didn’t think was very original. It’s a pretty typical fantasy setting. I don’t think this is a weakness at all, but like I said, it’s pretty typical of YA fantasy. I will say I loved seeing Sal navigate the world of the auditions. They have grown up really poor, working as a thief to get by, and then suddenly find themself expected to learn how to live in a world of nobles. I’m honestly really excited to see where the second book goes because I’m really looking forward to seeing how Sal handles all of that. I’ve seen some reviews mention that this seems like a repeat of Throne of Glass. I can’t say anything about how true that is. I will say that if you, like me, haven’t read Throne of Glass, this story will be absolutely captivating. While it has elements of other books I’ve read, it felt new and original to me and I loved that. I’m sure it’s pretty clear at this point that I absolutely adored Mask of Shadows. I truly have no complaints about this story. If you like high-stakes, deadly competitions and diverse casts of characters, Mask of Shadows is absolutely a must-read. I volunteered to honestly review an early copy of the book given to me by the publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different Sci-Fi Fantasy story. If you like sci fi fantasy with drama action you would like this book. It had good drama and action and suspense.
Quitterstrip More than 1 year ago
What a brilliant concept for a book! One part, Hunger Games, one part Throne of Glass, and one part originality! It’s beyond amazing! I won’t lie- this particular plot idea has been done. . .and done. . . and redone. For some unknown reason, in this particular book, it doesn’t annoy me, and I genuinely enjoyed reading it. Sure there were a few quirks, what reader doesn’t find a quirk (or two) to gripe about?! I also had my first encounter with an originality quirk that had me speechless. . .at first I wasn’t sure what to think, but towards the end I LOVED the idea, and really wonder why more writers are not utilizing this particular diversity. What exactly am I referring to? Gender fluidity. . . Our main character, Sal, thief extraordinaire, requires people to address him/her per the way they are dressed: tunic and pants, please address male, dress, please address female. A simple yet BRILLIANT concept. I have however seen a few people take up issue with the “just because a character is wearing pants/dress does NOT make them male/female”. Okay, I get that, especially being a tom boy myself. . .but come on people. Maybe I am out of the loop, and maybe gender fluidity among characters is more common than I realize. This one particular detail in the book floored me. Way to go Linsey Miller!!!! Sal starts the book a simple thief robbing a noble carriage. In my eyes, Sal is noble as well. “Honor among thieves”. If Sal doesn’t have to kill, Sal doesn’t. Which is how we meet Sal’s lady; a ring is stolen as well as an audition form to become Opal. What the heck is an Opal audition? It seems as though the Queen of the Realm keeps classy assassins in her company. Recently losing a gem (Opal) she is looking for a dutiful replacement. Ever the over-achieving assassin, Sal embarks on a Hunger Games/ Throne of Glass style mission to become the Queen’s next Opal. Of course there are tasks at hand to excel over the other admissions, as well as keeping up with Sal’s ulterior motive. My only qualm with the book, seems to be the inconsistency with Sal’s good vs. evil. I felt like we were back and forth with a “to kill, or not to kill” type scenario. Other than that, smooth reading, well designed plot, and the gender switching feature didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, the more I read, the less I thought whether Sal was a boy or girl. It didn’t matter to me. I kind of wish more books were like that.
Reddjena More than 1 year ago
There are various reviews roaming the internet about this book. I don’t think any had an issue with representation though, so I decided to give this book a try. The first chapter was amazing! Then it took a step back and did character introductions and a bit of world building, but then we were thrown right into the competition. Non-stop action, revelations, and exploring genderfluid as an accepted form of identification. While this story may not be new territory (think Hunger Games and Throne of Glass), I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the characters presented. I’ve already started passing this around to friends because I need someone to talk to about this book! I also went ahead and pre-ordered a final copy to have another one to loan out. There is a cute pre-order incentive, which you can find here, and it enters you into a grand prize drawing with all kinds of exciting swag IMG_4213 So, this has nothing to do with how I feel about the story contained within, but I do want to mention that Sourcebooks Fire outdid themselves with a really fun promotion that involved social media outreach, prizes, and great emails to the “auditioners” who participated throughout. I did win a random prize for an arc, signed bookplate, and stickers (which in no way affected my honest review), and the creative mask challenge was a neat addition. Here’s my entry! Thanks for putting all that together Sourcebooks Fire!! IMG_4273 SUMMARY: 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 Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life. Except 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. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
You know that feeling when a book jumps out at you and the rest of the world fades away? MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller did that to me and getting to the end had me thinking, now that’s a great story! Imagine Fate dumping the opportunity to better your life, gain the respect of others and get a long awaited revenge on those responsible for the death of Sallit’s people. Sallit is all that is left, a skilled thief, living in poverty and filth. This is Sal’s chance to change that, but first the auditions must be survived…only then can Sal become a member of the Queen’s Left Hand, her personal assassins. Skilled in the art of bringing death when one least expects it in ways too numerous to count. Ms. Miller has skillfully created an almost dreamlike atmosphere as we witness the making of an assassin, the best of the best, the one who outwits and outlasts their fellow auditioners by any means necessary, even killing them. Feel the tension of distrust, the wariness of every action, every look and the loneliness of knowing you are all that is left of your people. Know how desperate and determined Sallit is to bring down the monsters responsible for the genocide of good and trusting people. Dark, violent, mysterious and brilliantly executed, Linsey Miller has created a fantasy that will raise the hairs on your neck and actually trying to devise means of helping Sallit stay alive to win the title, Opal, the masked assassin for the queen. Sometimes justice and revenge can be a driving force to one’s own destruction, yet it is also a powerful motivator. Sallit is proof, but is it worth possibly losing your soul and your life? You decide. Linsey Miller makes a powerful statement in the fantasy world that begs to be read! I received an ARC edition from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A compelling story made even more interesting with a gender fluid character. Sal is complex even in their singular thirst for revenge against those nobles responsible for the destruction of their homeland. Full of adventure, intrigue, combat, assassination attempts, and a little bit of romance, I'd recommend this to fans of Tamora Pierce or Sarah J Maas. I received an electronic ARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved MASK OF SHADOWS! I enjoyed Sal as a protagonist, and I really rooted for them. If you've read ASOIAF and enjoy Arya's POV, I think you'll like MASK OF SHADOWS.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
“Mask of Shadows” is another diverse book in the young adult category, and I am thrilled to see more representation. Sal, the main character, is gender fluid. Unfortunately, the book seemed to drag in quite a few places. The plot is good. It is the execution I found lacking. That being said, it will still appeal to many readers and there is a lot of promise that the next book in the series will improve. I have my fingers crossed. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
jesserosecook More than 1 year ago
While I understand the character was gender-fluid, the term 'they' still grated at me for a singular person. The character liked to be referred to as 'he' when dressed as a man and 'she' when dressed as a woman, which was simpler. Since the book was told in first person perspective, 'they' wasn’t used much in the story itself. It’s just troubling for the write-up. The story itself moved slowly. The first 5% of the book showed us Sal as a thief, then the next 75% covered the auditions for the Queen’s Left Hand. There was some action here and there as auditioners died off, but I felt like less of the story could have been dedicated to the trials and more towards the plot of revenge. The big skirmish at the end of the book was mostly predictable and only took up around one chapter. While I understood why it happened, the book really felt like it was just a backstory for the next novel in the series, not a true story of its own. Another problem I had with the book was that the villain characters were confusing. I consistently got some of the names mixed up throughout most of the book. Without meeting the characters right away, they were just random names that Sal had a problem with. Maybe they shouldn’t have been introduced until Sal came across them in their journey. Overall, the story was enjoyable. I liked the romance aspect and want to know more about the nation’s queen. Sal was an interesting character and while the story was definitely slow, I enjoyed the history of it. The action seems to just be getting started, so I expect the next book will have more conflict and engagement. I’ll definitely be picking it up when it comes out. 3.75 out of 5 stars