I received a free ARC through NetGalley, and my review is honest and with only my opinions and thoughts.
Mask of Shadows is a fantasy novel by Linsey Miller, coming out later this year, about a genderfluid thief named Sallot Leon, whose gender presentation dictates what pronouns are used that day. They rob a carriage, and flirt with the occupant, and end up learning that an audition for the Left Hand of the Queen, assassins for the Queen named after the rings she wears, is soon happening. They secure a way in, and then the real fun begins, wherein they must pass tests, survive assassination attempts from their fellow auditioners, and try to become the next Opal (the position up for grabs). While dealing with this, Sallot is sent to tutoring, where they meet Lady Elise de Farone, who they tried to rob and which leads to a beautiful love story, kind of.
So, for the review, I loved it. I absolutely adored every word of this book. I was hooked from chapter one, and the language kept me so enthralled. Sallot uses contractions in places I wouldn’t have expected, saying things like “I’d a bag of gold” and the like, and it was so immersively wonderful. And Sallot’s dealings with the attendant who threw 23, the number Sallot is given when accepted into auditions, is Maud who is a perfect attendant for Sallot, or Sal, because she is always caring about Sal but also wants them to become Opal to save her family from being sold off.
Another thing I love is the Left Hand. Ruby, who is a brash man of action and very quick to temper when certain topics come up and who also adores poetry with all of his soul. Emerald is an archer ace, amazingly beautiful (every queer lady wants a piece of her) and who is a pun in herself, being an aro archer. And, finally, Amethyst, the last of the Left Hand to get in (her audition was three years prior to the start of the book), is lovely and badass. They are all wonderful people and assassins of great note.
The world of the novel, a country calls Igna, is a country which had magic until it was used for mindless killing things called shadows who flayed any in their way to their bodies (more is explained in the novel), and destroying them cost the Queen, Lady Ignasi, scars and strength and her hair.
I loved this book. I loved it so much, a book about a character whose gender is fluid and depends on presentation, where they get pronouned correctly by anyone good, and who is a ruthless killer only to avenge their fallen country, and they get the girl and it is adorable and lovely.
There is a sequel in the works, and I can not wait to read that.