Mask of Shadows: Linsey Miller || ARC Review

"Familiarity bred trust, and trust got you killed, made you think someone was there to catch you when they weren't." 

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Release Date: August 29th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Preorder/Purchase: Amazon// Barnes and Noble// Book Depository//

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 Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen's personal assassins named for the rings she wears -- Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal -- their world changes. They know it's a chance for a new life. Except 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. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

Thanks to the publisher for kindly providing an e-arc via Netgalley


Gah, I hate not finishing books, especially when it comes to arcs, but I just couldn't do it with this one. I only made it about 20% in, and I thought I could struggle through to the end, but after reading a bunch of other reviews that confirmed my fears of the rest just being a continuation of what I had problems with, I decided to call it quits.

Thus, if you're looking for a review of the book in it's entirety, I'm afraid I'll only be highlighting the problems I encountered in what I read. I can only speak for what pages I got through and sadly, it wasn't many.

My big problem with Mask of Shadows was a combination of things. Most poignant was the writing-style, and the swing from insane info-dumps to sentences that left me wondering what the hell had just happened. Within the first twenty pages you're faced with paragraphs that attempt to build up the fantasy world that Miller created, but it's done in a way that reads like a really bad textbook. Things were confusing and the grounding of the world was shaky. It's possible other things were better described later on, but the general background of the world, its divisions of land, and the ruler who oversaw them all was incredibly convoluted and hard to follow. You were thrown into a world with titles and references with no explanation until pages later when it was completely irrelevant. Then there were bits where there wasn't enough information, and the character jumped from things like talking about how they needed to have mice, to suddenly just... magically having mice? There were parts so disjointed that it almost felt like I was missing pages or paragraphs from the story. The writing was so choppy and flat, and it made it such a struggle to become invested in any way. 

The other thing that really bothered me is that there was nothing new within the story. If I'm getting close to being a quarter of the way through a book, I'm looking for something fresh or with an intriguing twist to push me to keep reading. With Mask of Shadows all I got was a very Throne of Glass-esque competition, and a world with magic and assassins that felt just like every other YA fantasy, with a dash of some Hunger Games thrown in. I know they say stories can never be "new" because they're always drawn from somewhere else, but Mask of Shadows really had no spin on anything, and felt just like a conglomeration mashed together and left in their original state. 

With that said, though, I'm still very happy about having a fantasy book feature a genderfluid mc!! From what I read, the genderfluid aspect was done really well, with, from what I could tell, the most care out of everything. It felt very real and grounded, and I thought Sal's explanation of their pronouns was done in a really nice way. Besides that aspect, though, I'm afraid they felt much like a generic protagonist. There wasn't really any part of them that made me want to viciously root for them; they had a pretty standard fantasy background w/ their land & family being destroyed by a ruler, them then wanting revenge, etc. 

It sucks because I feel like this one had so much potential, but ultimately, it just wasn't anything I haven't read before. There was nothing that gripped my attention outside of the genderfluid main character, and not even that was enough to keep me from having to set it aside. Things were too confusing for me to bother figuring out, and the story was missing that special something to truly set it apart from other fantasies. 

*1 out of 5 stars*

LET'S CHAT! If you've read Mask of Shadows, what did you think? Do you ever DNF books or do you stick it out through everything, even if you hate it? And what's the last book you thought you would love, but didn't? TELL ME ALL THE THINGS.


    Usually I DNF. but the last time I was going to DNF I didn't because it was the very first ARC I got approved for on NetGalley. This is the second book I got approved for. I'm afraid I'm going to come across the same problem waaaaahhhh :c
    The previous book I ALMOST DNFed that had such a promising premise but I ending up not liking at all was The Waking Land by Callie Bates. bleh, I feel all annoyed just thinking about it :P


      I always feel horrible DNFing, ESPECIALLY when it's ARCS because I know others would jump at the chance to read a book early, but sometimes they seriously just *don't* click with me, and I can't get through it.

      Oh, I don't think I've heard of that one! Guess that's a good thing, considering you didn't like it. xD

      xx a

  2. I'd been wondering about reading this one, but I don't think I can after seeing a slew of 1 and 2 star reviews. And ahhh, it looked like it had so much potential!

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. It's such a bummer; I would've loved for there to be a good fantasy book featuring such a widely underrepresented aspect of LGBTQ+. :/

      xx a


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