Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Published August 29th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 50/50 (YAY!)
I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from GoodreadsSallot 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 Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen's personal assassins named for the rings she wears -- Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal -- their world changes. They know it's a chance for a new life.
Except 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. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.
My ThoughtsI found this to be an enjoyable enough story, I found myself wanting to pick it up rather than putting it off. Since finishing it I have read several reviews which compare this story to others such as The Hunger Games and upon reflection I can see why however, this didn't bother me as I enjoy these types of stories. This book is about Sal who finds a poster asking for people to come and take part in a competition to be the new member of the left hand, which is the Queen's elite assassin squad. We follow Sal and the others who take part in the competition and all of the action and excitement that ensues. There are also some side plots which I will come to later.
This main plot line of the competition is what I enjoyed the most about this story. I liked the action and how fast paced the story was and although it was somewhat predictable this didn't bother me. I did however find that I was sometimes confused with what was happening and why things were happening. To me this happened more when we were reading about the side plots and Sal's reasons for joining the Left Hand. I found the writing jumped around a lot and this was sometimes hard to follow. I enjoyed the fast paced nature of the story but I feel that if some chapters slowed down a bit and offered some more explanation the side plots would of been easier to follow. I was also a bit disappointed in the world building. I would of liked some more depth to this. It would of been nice to learn more about the history of the lands, the magic system and the wars.
I loved the fact that the author included a gender fluid main character, any diversity is a hit for me, and I liked how it was accepted in this world. However, I would of liked to have seen a bit more about Sal growing up and dealing with their gender fluidity. I would of liked to see how they challenged others views, overcame difficulties and came into their own. To me this would of made Sal a stronger character. I did like the portrayal of Sal however, and I liked how feisty and kick ass they were.
I also wasn't a massive fan of the romance. This is one of the aspects of the story that I found to be quite confusing. I appreciated that there was diversity in the romance however, I didn't quite get how they went from competitor and teacher to a couple. Again I think this was due to the writing jumping around a bit.
Overall I did enjoy the main crux of the story but I did have some issues with some aspects of this book. Initially I wasn't sure if I was going to continue on with the series but since looking into it a bit more I have found out it is a duology so I think I might pick up the next one just to see how the story concludes.