Sunday, February 11, 2018

*Review* Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Genre: YA/Fantasy
Published: August 29, 2017
Pages: 352

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.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. And I'm not going to lie, I requested this book purely because I love the cover. Fortunately the story behind it did not let me down. 

So Sal, the main character, is gender fluid, and that is made abundantly clear throughout the story. It's referenced so often that I actually spent a somewhat large amount of time wondering about Sal's genitals even though I don't think they're really relevant to the story. I actually feel a bit weird about spending so much time thinking about Sal's genitals in fact, but the book wouldn't let me forget how undefined they are (if that makes sense). And if you feel like I'm focusing on Sal's genitals a lot right now, you'll understand sort of how I felt about the focus on Sal's gender while reading the story. 

Sal's gender-identity aside, this story had a bit of a Hunger Games feeling to it. The whole premise of the contest to become a member of the queen's hand revolves around a competition between various people and death is very likely because the easiest way to win is to kill your competition. Just don't get caught. And the competition was a bit more complicated than just don't die, and I appreciated the other aspects involved and loved seeing how Sal grew as a person, learning new skills to make him/her an even more formidable person.

Overall I give Mask of Shadows 4.1234 stars. - Katie 

A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in September 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

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