Mask of Shadows (Hardcover)

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Mask of Shadows By Linsey Miller Cover Image

Mask of Shadows (Hardcover)

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Other Books in Series

This is book number 1 in the Mask of Shadows series.

Staff Reviews


You would think, that after 11 years of living in Wichita, I would cease to be surprised about things. And yet, soon after beginning Wichita State MFA student Linsey Miller's debut novel, Mask of Shadows, I found myself both surprised and delighted: being a picky fantasy reader, it's not often I pick one up head over heels for the characters, the world, and the whole book.

Sal Leon is  many things: a refugee from war, the only survivor of a fallen land; a thief; ambitious; reckless; and set on revenge for the lords who were responsible for the deaths of an entire country. The problem is that Sal has no access to those lords... so when Sal comes into the possession of an audition poster for the Queen's Left Hand -- a group of highly trained assassins in the service of the queen -- Sal decides to take the chance. But little do the auditioners know that the trial is to the death, and that there will be many obstacles in their way. 

To get this out of the way: Sal is gender fluid -- sometimes a she, sometimes a he, and sometimes a they, as Sal puts it -- and while the gender fluidity is part of the story (Sal was often annoyed when people didn't get their gender; they did what they could to help people "get" it, but some characters were willfully obtuse), it wasn't the entire story. In fact, there was so much to love!  Miller has done some incredible world building, parsing out enough information to help the reader understand the world, but not going into long tangents about the history (though there is one attached at the end, if the reader is interested). There was magic, but that was banished, which leaves for some intriguing subplots (and maybe some more exploration in the sequel?), but that doesn't play a huge role in the narrative. Instead, this is a survival story: Sal needs to survive the trials and become the new assassin if they want to enact revenge for the systematic murder of their people. It's written in first person, and Sal's life/head is a good place to be: they are a smart, intuitive, and creative survivor. The book is also populated with a lot of fantastic secondary characters, from the servant Sal gets when they join the trials to the other members of the Left Hand. It's a brutal book: in a trial to the death, there is bound to be people killed that the reader cares about. All that gives it heft, though, and shows that Miller's not afraid to tell the story that needs to be told. 

An excellent debut novel, and I can't wait to read the sequel. 

— Melissa Fox

"I love every aspect of this amazing book—a genderfluid hero, a deadly contest, and vicious courtly intrigue. Get! Read! Now!" —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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.

This heart-pounding YA story of magic, danger, and revenge is perfect for readers looking for:

  • epic books for tweens and teens
  • gay and lesbian fantasy and science fiction
  • gripping stories with queer and gay magic and sorcery
  • gender fluid representation and gender diversity
  • dazzling world-building and relatable characters

Praise for Mask of Shadows:

A Bustle Most Anticipated YA of 2017!

"Compelling and relatable characters, a fascinating world with dangerous magic, and a dash of political intrigue: Mask of Shadows completely delivered. Fantasy fans will love this book."—Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane

"An intriguing world and a fantastically compelling main character make for a can't-miss debut. Miller's Mask of Shadows will make you glad you're not an assassin—and even gladder Sal is."—Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken and Now I Rise

"It is fabulous. Go forth and read the Hunger Games-like craftiness and intensity, Kaz Brekker-ish determination and moral questionability, and utterly charming romance." — LGBTQ Reads

"Uber bloody and action packed, Mask of Shadows is the book for anyone who loves a heavy dose of grit and gore with their fantasy." — TeenVogue.com

Don't miss the highly anticipated second book in the Mask of Shadows duology, Ruin of Stars, and Linsey Miller's standalone YA fantasy Belle Révolte, both available now!

A wayward biologist from Arkansas, Linsey previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there’s coffee. She is the author of the Mask of Shadows duology, Belle Revolte, and What We Devour. Visit her online at linseymiller.com.

Product Details ISBN: 9781492647492
ISBN-10: 1492647497
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English
Series: Mask of Shadows
"An intriguing world and a fantastically compelling main character make for a can't-miss debut. Miller's Mask of Shadows will make you glad you're not an assassin—and even gladder Sal is." — Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken and Now I Rise

"Compelling and relatable characters, a fascinating world with dangerous magic, and a dash of political intrigue: Mask of Shadows completely delivered. Fantasy fans will love this book." — Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane

"Uber bloody and action packed, Mask of Shadows is the book for anyone who loves a heavy dose of grit and gore with their fantasy." — TeenVogue.com

"Miller’s gritty, lightning-paced debut features a rough-and-tumble yet movingly vulnerable protagonist: Sal is uncompromising in their convictions, and doesn’t hesitate to kill when necessary but wishes to be more than just a weapon of vengeance. A complex but intriguing start to this planned duology." — Publishers Weekly

"This is a memorable, sharply written character. While readers who identify on the GLBTQ spectrum may be easy fans as Miller handles Sal’s identity with aplomb, that’s certainly not the only point of note here; the impressive, intricate world building, tense action, and fierce competitors are equally strong." — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"Gory, well-plotted, suspenseful on every page, and poised for the sequel." — Kirkus Reviews

"This fantasy’s gender-fluid protagonist, Sal Leon, makes Miller’s book worth picking up for diversity’s sake alone. Her treatment of the gender issue is most notable in that it isn’t really an issue… Violent and action-packed, this offering by first-time novelist Miller will circulate." — School Library Connection

"Teen genre fiction featuring a strong gender-fluid main character." — School Library Journal

"Miller’s setting is vividly drawn...a solid addition for libraries hoping to expand the gender diversity of their shelves." — Booklist

"It is fabulous. Go forth and read the Hunger Games-like craftiness and intensity, Kaz Brekker-ish determination and moral questionability, and utterly charming romance." — LGBTQ Reads

"An exhilarating, violent romp of a read." — Shelf Awareness

"For fans of The Hunger Games-type fiction, that’s gonna be too appealing to pass up. It’s gonna be too delicious to deny yourself. "Mask of Shadows," for readers age 15 and up, is gonna be a dream book." — Bookworm Sez

"Excellent worldbuilding… Nonstop action makes this book hard to put down. Fantasy fans will love it." — VOYA Magazine

"Miller’s combination of epic high fantasy with characters whose gender and sexuality fall outside of the mainstream norms for the genre will appeal to fans of writers who have explored the genre in similar ways, such as Tamora Pierce, Ellen Kushner, or Tanya Huff. Mask of Shadows is recommended for readers looking for a more diverse representation of gender and sexuality in their fantasy sagas, and for anyone interested in starting an exciting new fantasy series in general. " — IndiePicks Magazine

"A compelling non-binary, gender-fluid protagonist. A fascinating mix of unique world-building, gripping action, and thoughtfully-drawn characters, Mask of Shadows is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat read." — Lambda Literary

"A fun, fast read" — Locus Magazine