Title: Mask Of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Page Count: 352
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Synopsis: 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 Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins n
Aimed at 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.
I received an ARC copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The epic synopsis for Mask Of Shadows spoiled me and my expectations for this book. A thief with a personal vendetta sounded entirely risky and bad ass! Just the kind of book I like to read. I was prepared for excitement, hype and crazy adventures of rivalry, magic, and murder! It wasn’t really at all like how I thought it would be. I honestly had a bit of a struggle getting through the book. I really wanted to enjoy this book but I just couldn’t get into it the way I had hoped I would.
I’ve compiled one of my famous list of ramblings as to why this book wasn’t for me but also the points that I did rather enjoy too — Also, just because I love lists.
The love story was rather adorable and simplistic.
I absolutely love Fantasy novels with a touch of romance in them, it’s not the main focus, but a nice added bonus which I quite like. I really enjoy that aspect of this book, Elise and Sal share such a simple romance and it’s completely adorable. They bond and learn about one another as she helps Sal learn to read and write. Skills that Sal never had the chance to learn because of the events in Nacea that left him orphaned. It is a vulnerable thing for Sal and Elise is so good at helping him to learn without making him feel stupid or less than anyone else. That is what I enjoy about these two, they hold no reason to fall in love – Sal is a thief who tried to rob her, She is an Erlend (the people Sal despises), Sal flirts with her for nothing more than Info, but most importantly Sals’ true reasoning for becoming Opal would destroy her view of him – all of these things that should stand in the way. But they are drawn to one another anyway.
Queen Ignasi could possibly be a bad ass ruler – I am hopeful.
This point sounds completely crazy, I know but I actually really like her. I can’t tell what it is yet but she has such potential to either be a bad ass queen or a complete traitor to her people. Whichever it is I am excited to find out. I love characters that you have to figure out as you go, the ones who could sway either way. It’s always a delicate balance until one moment the bombshell drops and either catastrophe happens or a complete whirlwind of excitement. Yep, that is what I’m hoping for here. It seems like they are building up to something with the way the queen is talked about throughout the book and the way she acts when we finally meet her. I’m rooting for a serious twist of events. I want to be shocked.
The Plot was too much description and training and not enough excitement.
It felt like the book was mainly compiled of descriptions and history about what happened between Erlend and Nacea, why magic was banned and who was involved in the shadow fiasco. Besides that, the only other thing the book left us with was training classes and brief killings. No one was truly impressive or excelling throughout the training either and their kills were deemed as sloppy and unprofessional. Ultimately there was too much repetitive information and it bogged down the plot taking away from the adventure and excitement of this book. Each flip of the page I was waiting for something off the wall insane to happen, something intelligently sneaky for Sal to do to get ahead or some big piece of information to click all of this information into place and the novel to take off but it just didn’t happen the way I had hoped.
Sal was a confusing character.
I also felt like the plot left no room to discover who Sal truly was as an individual. There was no room for character development and the only thing the author let us know about Sal was that they are a gender fluid thief who wants to become Opal and destroy the ones who destroyed Nacea. That basically sums up this book and Sal entirely. I would have been intrigued to know more about Sal aside from Nacea, aside from being a thief. Tell me more about Sal being gender fluid, tell me why Sal chooses to be they/them and hates being referred to as he/she. Is there a specific reason or is that just who Sal has always been? These are things that intrigue me, I love to know the character, to feel like they could be my best friend by what I know about them as long as it is all relevant information to their story and the book as a whole. Honestly, with such a complex plot it felt like the author didn’t leave enough room to answer those kinds of questions for her readers.
I also am very confused about Sal and Sal being gender fluid. First of all, let me say it’s an awesome idea and I love that aspect of Sal but the author had me everywhere about who Sal really was. At times it seemed as if she wanted us to know Sal’s specific gender with comments that were made in the book and other times it felt like she was trying to say who cares which gender Sal is, Sal prefers this. For Example, Elise and Sal were talking and she expressed to him that she has always fancied men but she hasn’t told anyone but she fancies women as well. The way Elise made that statement made it feel to me like Sal is female? But in other cases of the book, it made me feel otherwise. I don’t care which gender Sal is but it would have been nice to have some sort of clarification about what the author wanted us to think about Sal.
(I would like to note, I speak as someone who does not have much knowledge on Gender Fluid and in no way mean to be offensive. I would love to learn more about being Gender Fluid and accept everyone for who they are. This is the first novel I have read where it incorporated a gender fluid character and I loved the idea, I just feel that from what I do know Sal was not properly represented to their fullest potential.)
Good News or Bad News for Maas fans is that it feels almost like a carbon copy of Throne of Glass, so there’s that.
For me this was a big no-no, as much as I love Throne Of Glass, I really don’t want to read 20+ other stories almost identical to it. It feels like Déjàvu in story form and becomes way too predictable. The point of reading is to find new and unique stories never read before or adapted in that way. If you have a bunch of novels harboring the same basic plot line with minor alterations here and there then whats really the point in the first place?
When we meet the other contenders of the competition everyone has been assigned a number up to 23 in place of their actual names. Aside from the numbers, we are given no valuable information to help us attach who that person is with their assigned number, as the reader it makes it hard to form connections with these characters or even just to know who they are in the relation to the competition. I struggled with that a lot and wound up finding myself mixing up characters thinking things like — 3 murdered 4 when really 5 murdered 2. (Just an example not true events.) It just didn’t work for me. I felt like not only did they strip them of their true identity but they were completely dehumanized by that. It made them seem less important to the story down to the point of being completely overlooked as a true part of the story.
Three Out Of Five Star Story
It was very hard for me to decide on a rating for this book. It truly had great potential and there were various things about this book I enjoyed, however, the overall story felt too heavily packed with information that was not relevant to the main focus of the story, it confused the plot and made it harder to focus on the important points in the book. And I can’t shake the similarities between Mask Of Shadows with Throne Of Glass, it took away some of my excitement and left the story feeling very unoriginal. I look forward to seeing how the next book continues Sal’s story and what happens in their days as Opal.