In many respects, the novel description of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller seems to be like many other fantasy novels. Protagonist Sallot Leon is an orphan-thief who wants to escape a life of successful highway robbery and find a way to avenge the dead of his/her family and countryman.
What makes Mask of Shadows a standout is that Sal is gender fluid, and insists that s/he be addressed in the appropriate manner based on his/her mode of attire on any given day. This is not just literary window dressing, Sal’s gender identity is central to the plot development and adds depth to his/her character.
Smart, witty, introspective and deadly, Sal tries out for an opening in the cadre of the Queen’s personal assassins, and a position in court close to treacherous nobles. The audition for assassin is a fight-to-the-death amongst all applicants. If Sal wants revenge, s/he will have to be ruthless.
Fast-paced, brutal, with a unique protagonist, Mask of Shadow is an exciting new fantasy read.
Three out of five stars.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.
Description from Goodreads:
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 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.
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