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Mask of Shadows
Cover of Mask of Shadows
Mask of Shadows
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"I love every aspect of this amazing book—a gender fluid hero, a deadly contest, and vicious courtly intrigue. Get! Read! Now!" —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling authorPerfect for fantasy...
"I love every aspect of this amazing book—a gender fluid hero, a deadly contest, and vicious courtly intrigue. Get! Read! Now!" —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling authorPerfect for fantasy...
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  • "I love every aspect of this amazing book—a gender fluid hero, a deadly contest, and vicious courtly intrigue. Get! Read! Now!" —Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

    Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

    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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 31, 2017
    Sallot “Sal” Leon, a genderfluid highway thief, has spent 10 years vowing revenge against the nobles who allowed shadows born of magic to kill their family and slaughter their people. When Sal discovers that the queen is holding auditions for a new Opal (one of four private assassins/guards), Sal decides to compete, but it won’t be easy. The other assassins—Ruby, Amethyst, and Emerald—won’t accept anything but the best, the competitors can try to kill each other at almost any time, and they’ll be tested mightily in the many ways of dealing death. The competition offers the opportunity to get close to some of the names on Sal’s kill list, but matters are complicated when Sal falls for tutor Elise de Farone. 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. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rachel Brooks, L. Perkins Agency.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2017
    A scarred street thief competes to become an elite assassin.Sal comes from Nacea, a country and people obliterated in a war between other countries. After years living under an unsavory gang leader, robbing and fighting just to survive, Sal--who's genderfluid and signals by that day's clothing whether they want to be called "he," "she," or "they"--sees the perfect chance to get revenge for Nacea. The Queen's Left Hand, which is "her collection of assassins and personal guards named for the rings she w[ears]--Ruby, Emerald, Opal, and Amethyst," needs a new Opal. As Opal, Sal would have access to the wealthy lords responsible for the Nacean genocide. The trials for the new Opal unfold bloodily, with three rules: kill the competition, don't harm anyone else, and don't get caught. Both Auditioners and the Left Hand wear masks throughout. Sal has brown skin, trauma, a set of skills, and a heady crush on a noblewoman. Political exposition reads messily, and some microflaws in the logic feel sloppy (for example, Sal bathes and eats in their room before nailing the door shut against the other murderous aspirants). However, the killing games and court intrigue--which may or may not involve magical specters previously used for torturing and killing Naceans--are breathless and terrifying. Gory, well-plotted, suspenseful on every page, and poised for the sequel. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-Sal is a gender-fluid war orphan living as a thief until they hear about auditions for their Queen's assassination squad. Sal survives deadly weapons training, sneak attacks, and mortal combat as "auditioners" compete to the death for the honored post. Sal's former robbery victim, Elise, now their language tutor and crush, offers Sal additional incentive to win because love among the Queen's favored is less likely to be judged unseemly. Sal's competition, known only by their assigned numbers, are driven by bloodlust and have various levels of expertise in violence. Sal's assigned servant, Maud, serves as the novel's comic relief as she and Sal banter about Sal's slim chances of success. In their kingdom left vulnerable by brutal wars, Sal seeks vengeance, love, and acceptance. The main character's gender-fluidity is well intentioned but is ultimately an awkward fit in this unsuccessful fantasy adventure. Determined readers may need to take notes to keep track of the countless fallen territories, the auditioners' numeric labels, and the veteran assassins' gemstone identities. The incomprehensible political history of Sal's world also hinders this ambitious series opener. VERDICT A laudable but disjointed attempt at teen genre fiction featuring a strong gender-fluid main character. Strictly for patient fans of complicated, gory sagas.-Elaine Fultz, Madison Jr. Sr. High School, Middletown, OH

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books "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."
  • School Library Connection "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 Journal "Teen genre fiction featuring a strong gender-fluid main character."

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