Review Detail

 
Mask of Shadows Featured
Young Adult Fiction
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

A Great Debut Fantasy Novel

MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller features Sal Leon, a genderfluid thief who wants nothing more than to exact revenge on the Lords of Erlend—those who ensured the annihilation of Sal’s country of birth, Nacea—and left them as its only survivor. The book starts with a robbery that introduces Sal, and as a result of that robbery, Sal learns of a competition to determine the newest member of the queen’s Left Hand—four bodyguards/assassins who are charged with protecting the queen and removing anyone who is a threat to her or Igna, the country created from the war that destroyed Nacea. Sal decides to enter the competition, and that adventure continues the book’s initial break-neck pace.

Upon entering the competition to be Opal of the Queen’s Left Hand, Sal becomes known as Twenty-Three—their number/name having been assigned based on the order the competitors were accepted into the competition. Sal is accepted based on fighting skills and a willingness to kill, and though Sal shows signs of being kind and caring at times, they are also ruthless. All of the competitors are ruthless, but beyond that we only know them by their numbers and the skills that will make them able killers.

The early competition scenes were my favorite parts of the book. The fight-to-the-death premise of MASK OF SHADOWS is one that is found in many fantasy or historical fiction novels, but the execution of this book is interesting for many reasons. Sal’s genderfluidity is mentioned at times, and an attempt at explaining genderfluidity is woven into Sal’s initial interview with the three members of the Left Hand running the competition, but it’s not the reason for this novel, just an aspect of it. MASK OF SHADOWS has many (many many) strong female characters, but gender plays such an insignificant role in every character that the world built by Miller seems somewhat utopian when it comes to equality and the understanding that the sexes are equal. Women are just as likely as men to fill any roll, and it’s not remarked upon at all. Gender roles are definitely not a thing, and the lack of them is not a thing either. A flaw in the tale is that Sal is the only characters who is fully developed by Miller--and that’s a shame because there’s such potential in so many others. In particular, Emerald, Amethyst, and Ruby—the three remaining members of the Left Hand—are people readers want to know more about, and I hope the second book expands on their stories. The lack of character definition also made it difficult to keep track of many of the secondary characters as they stepped in and out of scenes.

The love story woven into the book is sweet, but not all that interesting. That’s not something that bothers me—I don’t read adventure novels with an eye toward a good romance. The action scenes are really well written and they are constant, and the competition aspect of the book is well plotted. There are moments of far too much explaining as the book winds to a close, but that’s understandable as the author sets the stage for book two. The world building is strong except for the aspects surrounding magic and its removal from the world, and although the conflict that lead to the creation of Igna is repeatedly mentioned, more history on that would have been helfpul. Again, that could be something that will be developed more in the second book.

All in all, I recommend the book to those who like sword and sorcery books—though all sorcery takes place in the past—and a lot of action. I’ll be looking forward to the second book and revisiting Sal’s world. My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Good Points
A world with no gender roles
A genderfluid main character
Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Kai's summer changes when she gets a summer internship at...
 
0.0
 
4.3 (1)
Zoe is just your average teenage girl expecting another average,...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Frango & Chicken
Some things seem impossible, but with the right attitude and...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ruby Lane
Ruby is overexcited again, and her brain is spinning creative...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Girl Gone Ghost
A gripping psychological thriller. Inspired by a...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice
A perfect tool for young readers as they grow into...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
From the critically acclaimed author of Waiting for Normal and...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Side by Side A Novel of Bonnie and Clyde
Texas: 1931. It’s the height of the Great Depression, and...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Voyage of the Dogs
SOS. Ship damaged. Human crew missing. We are...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Flying in a Cage
A song tugs inside me, like a string pulling...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Shorty & Clem Blast Off!
The energetic and zany duo Shorty and Clem are back,...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Bear's Spooky Book of Hidden Things: Halloween Seek-and-Find
If you want to keep kids happily busy for hours...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Strange New World
Dahlia 16's life is a lie. The city of...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Like Never And Always
Liv Burnham thinks nobody knows Morgan Frost like she...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Outcasts- The Blood Dagger: Volume 1
Mystical relics. Powerful vampires. Strange allies. It's hell being...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ascent (A Peak Marcello Adventure #3)
After conquering the mountains in Afghanistan, Peak Marcello goes...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
 
5.0
"Mason Buttle can't read all that well. And he sweats a lot. And writing isn't something he can do either...."
Voyage of the Dogs
 
5.0
"The Laika is on mission Stepping Stone, traveling outside the solar system to set up a new planet. In addition..."
Shorty & Clem Blast Off!
 
4.5
"'Shorty & Clem Blast Off!' by Michael Slack is a cute addition to Shorty and Clem's adventures. The first book..."
Bear's Spooky Book of Hidden Things: Halloween Seek-and-Find
 
3.5
"'Bear's Spooky Book of Hidden Things' by Gergely Dudas is for anyone who loves books like 'Where's Waldo?' Even adults..."
Funny Kid #2: Stand Up
 
4.5
"After his attempts to run for class president in Funny Kid for President, Max has decided that his identity is..."
Yellow Submarine
 
4.0
"Twice upon a time, once in 1968 and once today, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland. In an elaboration..."
Louie (The Puppy Place #51)
 
4.0
"The Petersons are working together to clean up a camp ground near Loon Lake, where they will be spending time..."
Spirit (The Puppy Place #50)
 
4.0
"Lizzie is very used to being around dogs, since her family fosters many of them, and has Buddy, their own..."
Mr. Wolf's Class
 
5.0
"Mr. Wolf is starting his first year of teaching fourth grade. He sets up his classroom and waits for his..."
Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel
 
5.0
"This graphic retelling remains true to the story of the classic 1958 British time slip story. Tom is sent to..."
Welcome to Wonderland #3: Sandapalooza Shake-Up
 
4.0
"P.T. and Gloria have saved the Wonderland Motel, and now because of the celebrity tie-in with the Surf Monkey movie,..."
Al Capone Throws Me a Curve (Tales from Alcatraz)
 
4.0
"There are a lot of things going on for Moose now that summer is approaching. He desperately wants to be..."
So Done
 
4.0
"Bean and Tai are neighbors in a low-income housing project and have been friends for a very long time, but..."
Scout: National Hero (Scout #1)
 
4.0
"Matt and his family have moved to Nevada, where his mother runs an Army base and heads up their K-9..."
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School
 
5.0
"Waldo and Sassy are hard working dogs who scour the floor for meatballs and keep their humans' house safe from..."
The Lost Continent (Wings of Fire, Book 11)
 
4.0
"Blue and his sister Luna are very close to going through metamorphosis, after which they will be given jobs and..."
Game Changer
 
5.0
"At the end of summer football camp for the Walthorne Wildcats, Ted Youngblood collapses as he comes off the field..."
Double Cross (Twintuition #4)
 
4.0
"Cassie and Caitlyn Waters are still struggling to understand the power they share, The Sight. It is somehow tied to..."
Just Under the Clouds
 
4.0
"Cora's mother has struggled to keep a roof over Cora and her sister Adare's head ever since the death of..."
Revenge of the Teacher's Pets (Brewster Triplets #4)
 
4.0
"Darby, Dawn, and Delaney are determined that seventh grade is going to be AWESOME. However, when they get their schedules,..."