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 received a copy of Mask of Shadows from the UK distributor. I had been meaning to read this book for a long time, because my friend Avery has been singing its praises for ages. Also, it’s about assassins and that’s always a premise I’m interested in.
I was really impressed by the set-up of the assassin competition. It really pointed out which assassins were lacking skills in which fields, and which assassins were more than alright in those fields. It’s not something that I see so often in an assassin novel, so it definitely pulled me in. I loved that Sal was not automatically good at everything, nor did she become proficient at everything at the end of the story! The assassins also did not back down from actually assassinating people.
The characters had very distinct personalities. I loved that and was able to connect to quite a few minor characters quite well. I definitely miss Four. Sal is an incredible main character. They were so nuanced, and it was fascinating to learn more about them and their motives as the story progressed. They are genderfluid, and this was not used as a plot device, which was great.
I would have liked a bit more background information about the history of the region and the other members of the Left Hand. I especially found this lacking at the reveal at the end of the book.
Mask of Shadows is an engaging fantasy book. I could not put the book down!
Trigger warnings: gore/violence, misgendering, kidnapping, murder, self-harm, classism.
Have you read Mask of Shadows? What did you think of it? Do you want to read the sequel?