#allthebookreviews – Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

August is coming to an end – we’re squeezing in a couple more books!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the advanced ebook copies in exchange for our honest review!

MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller – released yesterday, August 29th!

This YA fantasy was one of the last for the #allthebookreviews August line up.

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Chandra’s Thoughts: 3/5 stars

Let’s see.. where do I start? I typically don’t read other people’s reviews before writing mine but was really curious when at a quick glance I saw so many 2 stars. So I went to reading a few and here’s my thoughts. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything fantasy and really looked forward to this read. Is it on par with Maas and Bardugo? No, but I’m also tired of marketing telling people a book is like THIS or like THAT or people saying it’s not as good so therefore must suck.

I also saw a lot of comparisons to Hunger Games and I don’t get it. Yes, it’s a group of people thrown into a competition to the (possible) death… but in this book, they volunteer for it, knowingly going in with the possibility of dying and even though there’s one clear “winner” not everyone else has to die to make it happen. Also, they’re in this competition while they’re training.. so yeah, I am just not seeing what most other people are for some reason.

The world building could definitely have been better. It did get confusing at times but over all, I was entertained and I liked the basic concept. The gender fluidity of the main character, Sal, was a refreshing take… and especially so as no one around him/her seemed to care. I did find it interesting though, that even in this case, the only time Sal was offended or irritated was when they called him/her a “she” or a “girl” when he/she was clearly in a dress. **scratches head**

All the “auditioners” for the Left Hand of the Queen (Opal) have their names stripped and instead went by numbers. At the beginning, there were a few paragraphs with these numbers thrown around and immediately my mind went to that episode of Friends where Monica is showing Chandler how to please a woman.. “a one and a two, four, one, three, two, two, five, six, three, two… seven, seven, seven, SEVEN!” (not an exact quote but you get the gist).. but I did find it got less confusing as the book went along.

Was this the best fantasy book I’ve ever read? No. Did it have some unique aspects to it? Sure. Was it cliched in certain areas? Absolutely. But was I entertained? Yes, I definitely was.

My Thoughts: 2.5/5 stars

MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller is book one of a new YA fantasy series. A story about revenge, survival, and auditioning to be the Left Hand of a powerful Queen.

Sallot Leon is our main character. Sal is a thief, and a very good one. Sal will stop at nothing to get off the streets and leave the life of a highway robber and dreams of making it up to the upper class. After stealing a poster that was announcing auditions for the Left Hand. These are the powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins that are named for the rings that she wears – Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal. The audition is a fight to the death with circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and ex-soldiers. A life of crime is barely enough preparation for Sal, but they must conceal the real reason for entering – revenge.

So, I really thought this was going to have a unique premise. If you’ve read THE HUNGER GAMES then this book will sound familiar. A fight to the death and dystopian themed YA is a commonly used plot line and it’s been overdone (in my opinion). The one thing that was really unique and new about this book was that Sal is gender-fluid. I know that’s something the YA genre hasn’t seen much of yet and it definitely added a new element.

Overall, I was bored and found it hard to get through. I haven’t DNF’d a book yet this year, so I made myself push through it. It was a commonly used plot line, some continuity issues, and I didn’t connect to any of the characters. The gender fluidity of Sal was the only thing that made this one stand out.

 

How are you ending the month of August in terms of reading?

–Jess

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