Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Expected publication: September 5th 2017
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.
The synopsis for Mask of Shadows says “perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo”. I think whoever wrote that set this book up to fail in comparison to those two writer’s books. Comparing a book to the likes of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo is a very bold claim and I feel like because of that claim and the epic sounding synopsis, I was let down by this book.
The plot is kind of boring and unoriginal. It felt a lot like The Hunger Games and by a lot, I mean almost an exact copy. I’m not really into reading books that are very similar so the plot really wasn’t for me.
I liked the writing. It wasn’t Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo level but I liked it. It felt like the writing of a debut novel but I think there’s a lot of potential for the author.
The diversity in the main character is what held this book together for me. I’d never read about a gender fluid character before and to be honest, I don’t know a lot about gender fluidity. I was very interested to learn about Sal and see a new perspective. If the main character wasn’t diverse, this would be a two star book for me.
Overall, Mask of Shadows was okay. I liked it for the most part but whenever I think about this book being compared to Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, I roll my eyes. That line is clearly a marketing ploy and shouldn’t be taken seriously. If you don’t mind books having similar plots, you might really like this book. Or if you’re on the hunt for a gender fluid character, Mask of Shadows would be a good one to pick up. But, if you’re looking for amazing writing and an original plot, you’ll want to skip this book.