Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1)
by Linsey Miller
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Series Untitled #1
An eARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.
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.
Sal is a small time highway thief who is growing up on the streets, working for a heartless master and wishing for a different life. This opportunity for a new life presents itself in the manner of an announcement of an audition for a spot as a member of the Left Hand, seeing this as the perfect opportunity to better his life and to start putting his personal plans into motion.
These are not your normal “auditions”. It’s pretty much a kill or be killed type of deal. Along with trying to stay alive, there are rules put in place by the members of the Left Hand that watch over the auditions, they even have lessons for them.
I found Sal to be a very interesting character, not just because of their back story and how they came to be where they are in the story but also because Sal is gender fluid. Mind you I am not knowledgeable at all about being gender fluid, but the way that Sal described it in the book, made it easier for me to visualize Sal as a character in the book.
There was the relationship between Sal and Maud that I enjoyed also. Maud didn’t sugar coat her reasons why she wanted to see Sal achieve the position of Opal, and I felt that being that open with Sal helped them achieve their mutual goals. Even the banter between them at times was very sibling like in my eyes. I do hope that there will be more of this in the next book.
There were parts of the story that I felt I was watching Game of Thrones, seeing as how Sal has a list of names of those he needs to exact revenge on, just like Arya Stark.
I will admit I was sad to see some of the auditioners go, I was really hoping to find out more about the acrobats and their back story. Maybe there will be a side story about their travels and exploits and how they came to take part (wishing).
I’m not sure where the second book will take us, since there were a number of things that happened at the end, but I do look forward to following Sal and the other members of the Left Hand and whatever jobs/orders they are given by the Queen, along with Sal’s personal goals.