Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Expected Publication: September 5th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
This eArc was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.
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.
What drew me to this book on NetGalley was the summary saying that it was for fans of Maas and Bardugo. I just wish that this book was more its own, rather than a mix of series that we have already read and for the most part love. This book had a Throne of Glass meets Hunger Games feel to it, and for that I didn’t have must interest in it.
The only aspect of this book that I did enjoy was that Sal was a gender fluid character, or well I more like the idea of such character. There was never really an explanation of why Sal was gender neutral, and the author made it seem as if everyone accepted Sal in whatever gender he/she was dressed that day. This would have been all fine and dandy that everyone was very accepting during this time if it wasn’t for Sal getting teary eyed every time someone accepted him (I’ll just call Sal him to make things simple). But even though Sal is gender fluid, it wasn’t a big aspect of the plot and sometimes felt thrown in as filler.
In reality, we don’t really know who Sal is as a character and anyone else for that matter. As soon as the audition starts everyone is given a number and a mask. This made caring about anyone in the book particularly hard, and since it’s a competition we don’t really learn who they are to begin with.
The world building was very confusing in this. I felt as if we were just thrown in and expected to know everything already. It didn’t help that I felt like I was rereading another book set in a dystopian world where everyone has to fight for the death to become the victor, or in this case the queens new assassin.
Overall, this book was a disappointment for me, and I will definitely not be picking up the second one when it comes out. Giving this book 2 stars is being very generous, my rating would actually be closer to 1-1.5.