(Review) Mask of Shadows
Mask of Shadows by Lindsey Miller
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages: 384 (hardcover)
Genre: Young Adult
My Goodreads Rating: 1.5-2 Stars
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.
In theory, Mask of Shadows, is an interesting concept and brings a diverse character into the world of young adult novels. The idea of a gender fluid main character fighting for revenge against the people who killed their entire family and destroyed their homes is definitely something we should all get behind.
In actuality, the execution fell flat. This would have been a great story, had it more originality than simply making the main character gender fluid. To me, that's the only thing that stood out from this book.
Sal is a thief and one day they steal a flyer from a passing coach and then decide to try and become one of the queen's most loyal assassins. Only until they see the flyer, Sal is only a thief and streetfighter, so the decision seems a bit impulsive considering they've been living this way for years.
Once Sal makes it to the audition they, and all of the other auditioners, are to be in some sort of a culling. They're supposed to kill each other, but don't get caught killing each other. Which was kind of confusing to me. The game plays like this for several chapters and scenarios as the characters are weeded out.
While they are auditioners, they are also only known as numbers, so it's a little hard to keep track of who is who. I didn't find myself interested or invested in any of these characters...except maybe Ruby, because he seemed badass.
This story gets repetitive as the auditioners keep trying to kill each other, the whole time Sal is trying to find their revenge on the elite of society. It just felt like we've seen this story so many times before (The Hunger Games, Divergent, Red Rising) and Sal just didn't fill the shoes of those characters.
Personally I would have liked the gender fluid aspect of Sal to be more prominent and made more of a main point in the book. To me, it seemed like a way to hook people in and not really focus on the main thing that was supposed to make this book special.
It was a struggle to get through this one. Even some of the language and dialogue felt stunted and unnatural. I fond myself rereading sentences over and over in order for them to make sense. Part of me is interested in finding out what actually happens with the rest of the series, but most of me is okay with it ending here.