Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Rating: 3/5 stars
I received this from Sourcebooks fire via Net-Galley.
“So who are you?” asked Ruby.
Synopsis: 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.
When I first saw the description of this book I was immediately reminded of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. It follows a similar thread as the first book, following a would be assassin through a competition to become ‘Opal’, one of the Queens personal assassins.
What I liked about it:
So I really did love some aspects of this book! There were a number of side characters and side plots which I found especially interesting. The concept of royal assassins was done in a very clever way – they all wear masks and only each other and the Queen know their true identity. The competition element was fast paced and exciting – the competitors were quite literally dropping like flies throughout!
Sal, the main character, is portrayed as gender fluid – referred to as him/her/them depending on the choice of clothes that day. I found this very interesting to read about, but I do think that there needed to be a little more ‘show me’ and less ‘tell me’. Most of our information about Sal’s gender orientation came from his internal monologue or from his conversations with others and didn’t really have any effect on how the story played out, making it a little stilted and not as genuine as it could have been.
What could be better:
As I mentioned above, a little more about Sal’s gender fluidity in the way of actual plot would have really added some interest and connection. As it is, it seems more of an unnecessary observation that a useful plot point.
The romance in this story also had me cringing fairly. It had really good promise, starting with a street side robbery and hilarious banter. However, it became pretty cheesy as the romance progressed and again, I feel this could have been left out of the plot altogether. Sometimes if your book is about murderous assassins, that is all it needs to be about – no lovey stuff required! 🙂
Another issue I had with this book, is the character descriptions. I found it very hard to follow who was who through many complicated family names and not to mention the Queens assassins all wearing masks and going only by their ‘precious stone’ names. Several times, I thought I was in a scene with one character to realize later that I had got mixed up and it was actually someone else.
Overall – a pretty good read! I read it in one sitting and would definitely be interested in reading a follow on to see where Sal ends up next. I feel it is definitely a world that needs some more building!