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.
Mask of Shadows is the debut novel of Linsey Miller and I have to say this is one of the best debut books I’ve ever read. The story is engaging, the plot face-paced, yet everything feels well developed and real.
I loved how Miller wrote Sal with the ability to adapt in high-stakes situations. Sal has flaws, but they accept what they cannot do and utilize what they can. These qualities give Sal a realistic feel. Sal being a gender-fluid assassin was also quite interesting. LGBTQ+ representation is really starting to pick up in the YA circuit, so it was a refreshing perspective.
As this is YA there has to be a bit of romance, which manifests as the ever beautiful Elise de Farone. They have a very slow-burn sort of romance leaving you itching for more at the end of their meetings.
I also really loved getting to know Sal’s servant for the competition, Maud. She was a great subplot for the story pushing Sal’s need to survive, for not only his life was on the line, but her future as well. They created a sort of business deal that would work in both their favors, but it grew to be a very important friendship. I truly think that if Sal didn’t have Maud to back them through the auditions they’d have been a lost cause.
We also got to meet the Left Hand – Ruby, Emerald, and Amethyst. All three of the assassins had their own personalities, witty, brilliant, sophisticated. Ruby was my absolute favorite. He’s quite the hilarious character and I almost feel like he has a big brother attitude towards Sal. Emerald was really awesome as well, the quiet beauty that could slit your throat without blinking an eye. Amethyst was the sweet soul who knew when something was wrong and would offer shoulder squeezes or small hugs, but you cross her and you were dead without a trace. I hope in the sequel, Ruin of Stars, we’ll get to see more of the Left Hand and learn about their stories.
See you guys next time!