Friday, August 25, 2017

ARC Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Publication: Sourcebooks Fire (August 29, 2017)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: Sallet Leon is an orphan and one of the few survivors of her people. Sal makes a living as a thief but when the opportunity arises to try out for a position on the Queen's Left Hand, Sal sees an opportunity to finally get revenge on those who let the shadows loose in her country.

Becoming one of the Queen's Left Hand isn't an easy task. Since Sal was not invited to the competition, it is necessary to prove competence. Sal does that by assassinating the man who is the boss in the gang of thieves. Sal then carries his hand to the city as proof of competence. Sal is chosen as the twenty-third competitor. Now all that has to happen is that all the others die. They prove their worth by killing each other and not falling under suspicion of doing so.

Sal has a couple of allies. Maud is the attendant assigned to take care of Sal. Maud is ambitious. If Sal wins, she will get an advanced position and the she will have enough money to buy her younger siblings from an orphanage before they are sold off to be servants. Sal's other ally is Elise who is a member of the Erland -- those who Sal blames for the death of his/her people. But Elise helps Sal learn to read and write and they flirt and fall in love.

The descriptions of the training and things Sal does to finally get to the position of Opal are somewhat graphic. The story is filled with action. It is also interesting to watch Sal's growth from someone who worships the Queen because she defeated the mages and shadows that killed Sal's home to someone who recognizes that the Queen is human and as prone to error as anyone else.

One of the most intriguing things about this story is that Sal is gender fluid. Sal wants to be addressed by the pronoun that matches his/her appearance. She/he respects those who realize that and has disdain for those who don't.

This was an entertaining fantasy with an intriguing main character. The world building was interesting and the political intrigue nicely twisty.

Favorite Quote:
"Address me however I look." I was both. I was neither. I was everything, but that wasn't exactly a friendly conversation between strangers trying to kill each other. Least he asked nicely. "Why are you talking about me?"
I received this one for review from . You can buy your copy here.

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