Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Pub: To be released Aug 29, 2017
I received an eARC via NetGAlley in exchange for an honest review
Sallot Leon is a gifted thief and wants out of the dog-eat-dog world of crime and poverty. They steal a flyer for an audition for the Left Hand, the Queen’s personal force of assassins, and determines this is the way to escape they’re monotonous and dangerous life and seek revenge on those who destroyed their home.
Mask of Shadows offers morally ambiguous characters (stab, stab, poison!), an engaging take on what it means to be an assassin, and adds a dose of inclusiveness with a gender-fluid character like Sal. However, it lacks the foundation of a large fantasy world, world building, and setting.
The world in Mask of Shadows is pretty interesting, but I wished we got some more information and history. The information we do get, felt disjointed and leaving the reader with more questions than answers.
The audition for assassin was the highlight and the best part. I love reading about the Left Hand and wanted more. The audition is deadly and contains a dash of court intrigue.
The execution and conflict is a little underwhelming. Sal is seeking revenge, but the readers don’t get a chance to decide whether to root for them or not because we don’t know what they’ve lost and what they can gain. Sometimes, that’s not necessarily the case, but we know so little about Sal that it makes their actions meaningless. I don’t care if they did this and this, etc. if I don’t know what they have to gain or lose, or in this case, what they’ve lost.
I am looking forward to reading some reviews by people who are genderfluid, to reflect on Sal’s characterization.
Mask of Shadows is being compared to Sarah J. Mass and Leigh Bardugo. I can’t say about Mass, but Mask of Shadows does have a similar feel to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. New environments, learning, and proving one’s worth. Sal and Alina’s voice is also similar in a witty and wry kind of way.
In the end, Mask of Shadows could use some stronger world building and ties to cement the setting and really bring the world to life. I look forward to book two.
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