What happens when a thief decides not only to become an assassin, but also tries to join an elite and ruthless group of trained killers? Sal Leon, a common criminal, hopes for more in life than just a few stolen coins, and when a nefarious cult known as the Left Hand opens auditions for a new member, Sal jumps at the opportunity. Soon Sal discovers that the audition is actually a competition, pitting other lethal criminals, ex-soldiers, and killers against one another to find out who’s the most vicious of them all.

Mask of Shadows is the first book of Linsey Miller’s new duology. Set in a well-drawn fantastical world, filled with moral ambiguity and high-risk stakes, the novel is a strong introduction to Sal Leon. For Sal, whose family and country were destroyed in the crossfires of war, the Left presents an excellent opportunity to gain access to those on their hit list. As they begin to learn more and more about the Left’s political machinations, as well as fall for the beautiful noblewoman Elise de Farone, Sal’s life suddenly becomes more complicated than they could have imagined.

Though a little shaky in terms of pacing, Mask of Shadows keeps the reader’s rapt attention with twists and turns at every step of Sal’s journey. Sal is an extremely interesting and captivating protagonist, often inexact in their morality, with a strong longing for revenge and adventure. Furthermore, Sal is a gender-fluid person who uses the pronouns she/he/they when appropriate to their current state of being and is readily accepted by most of the people in their environment.

Linsey Miller’s Mask of Shadows introduces some much-needed new representation to young adult fiction and historical fantasy: a compelling non-binary, gender-fluid protagonist. A fascinating mix of unique world-building, gripping action, and thoughtfully-drawn characters, Mask of Shadows is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat read.

 

Mask of Shadows
Linsey Miller
Sourcebooks Fire
Hardcover, 9781492661528, 352 pp.
August 2017


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