Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 29th 2017
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.
I don’t know what to rate this book. I keep dancing between a 3.5 and a 4 nut score. It’s not because of anything bad, or that I didn’t like something. On the contrary, I really liked pretty much everything in this book. However there’s very little in this book I could say I loved.
MASK OF SHADOWS took me about a day to read. It was a pretty quick read that kept me up late because I had gotten to the point where I needed to know what happened next. On that front I can say I loved something. I loved that the book made me want to keep reading, that I never really got bored (something I’ve been feeling a lot in recent reads). So in that I was very pleased and excited.
The main character, Sal, is gender fluid. This was really neat, as I cannot remember ever reading about a gender fluid MC before. And the way they are described, they way they describe and identify themselves on a given day in the story is very well done. While some characters react normally, others are very rude about it. It’s a very simple way to indicate character biases and allegiances (good, evil, neutral) but very effective.
Sal is a great character and I liked them very much. I liked their arc, their romance, the fact that they weren’t a perfect fighting machine. Sal is clever and resourceful though, something I really enjoy over physical strength. And yet I can’t say I love Sal. Sal isn’t a character I’d want to read a big, long series about. They just don’t have the charisma or pull for me that I would have expected.
The rest of the characters are all interesting, particularly the Left Hand. Of anyone in this series, I would want more books about the Left Hand characters, and maybe the queen. Everyone else is pretty basic at their roots. Uncomplicated villains, evil as hell but not particularly a draw for the story. A sweet and desirable love interest, who I go back and forth about whether there’s enough character there for me to care about. I just feel like too much is left unsaid about all of them. They need more detail, more character development. Otherwise they’re just *shrug* fine I guess.
This book is very Hunger Games at points, down to a competitor who’s sneaky poisons and plants end up being their downfall. You have shades of Throne of Glass and Six of Crows as well, but it spends a lot of time trying to be those things instead of being itself. I want a new world, dynamic characters, a story that doesn’t rely on being like others. In that, only the revenge subplot makes the cut.
That being said I do think this book is worth a read, especially for fans of the before mentioned series. I’m certainly interested in a sequel, even if I’m not rabid for it. Mostly I just want more Left Hand, GIVE ME LEFT HAND!
What are your thoughts on this book? Share your thoughts in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,