For fans of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass books, comes a new thrilling fantasy, where fighting is not an option. In Mask of Shadows, we open with Sal Leon, a gender-fluid street fighter, hell-bent on getting revenge for their destroyed homeland. The current nation, fragile and new, is held together by the might of a powerful Queen and her assassins, and earning a spot among them would be the quickest path to getting the right to avenge their nation. So when the Queen’s Opal dies, and the position opens up, Sal knows they have to audition. Except for one little detail, this ‘audition’ is actually a killing spree and the last one left standing is the new assassin.
I loved this book. So much. Like yes, I know it was just released, but I’m impatient for the sequel! I know everyone says each book in the fantasy genre is “the new The Hunger Games,” but this book easily outshines that for me. We get so much world-building in a way that’s still engaging, and so much action that it’s hard to not become hooked. Plus Sal is gender-fluid, and the way it’s described is so perfect (‘You’re still you, you’re just a changing river’). The other great part? Pretty much every character in this novel just accepts it for what it is. Heck yeah, normalize LGBT characters!
While romance is definitely not the main focus of the book, the romantic plot we get is so adorable and the chemistry is well-developed, you can’t help but root for them by the second interaction! Neither are damsels-in-distress, but each have their weaknesses.
Another thing that Linsey Miller masterfully does is character strengths. Every character has different strengths depending on their profession and there are no wildly overpowered characters. The training and lessons every character goes through during the auditions is obviously well researched, and I really loved getting to explore all the characters. The novel never felt static, and it’s a great hook for a new fantasy series. I was thoroughly impressed, and I can’t wait to see how the story continues.
-Nika, (Dusen)Berry Blogger and member of the River Teen Advisory Board
p.s. this book was provided to the River TAB through the YALSA Teen Top Ten project. If you are a teen interested in reading great books like this before that are published email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.