Reviews for Mask of Shadows, by Linsey Miller

nyphren's review against another edition

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4.0

somewhere between 3.5 and 4.0. i absolutely adored sal.
rtc

anacereading's review

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adventurous hopeful mysterious medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5


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invioletshadows's review against another edition

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4.0

This book was so much fun, and I'm really excited to see where this series goes next. You can read my full review here https://skysreadingcorner.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/review-mask-of-shadows/

hailandwellread's review against another edition

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4.0

4 STARS

TW: violence, misgendering

Ohhhhh did I love this one, and I can't believe I let it sit on my shelf so long. It was fast and exciting and action-packed AND THE SEQUEL COMES OUT TOMORROW.

Thanks to someone incredibly generous, I was gifted a pre-order, and as soon as I finish unpacking and easing into my new apartment (tomorrow is move-in for senior year omg), you know I'm going to have my nose straight in that book! It doesn't stand a chance.

But returning to the book that is out, wow, I had such a good time! I've seen a lot of folks really mixed on this, saying they either loved it or hated it, but I'm definitely in the loved it camp. Was it perfect? No. Did I have a good time anyways? You betcha!

It helps that I really loved the main character, Sal. For starters, their willingness to adapt really stuck out to me, and despite how ruthless the circumstances they ended up, they still managed to survive. I do love a good survivor character, after all. Especially an angry survivor, who sometimes gets a reminder that they're not the invincible fury they sometimes wish they could be. Sal has their share of successes, but there are some setbacks along the way that shake what they believe about their heroes, and how much they believe in their own strengths.

You'll notice I'm referring to Sal with they/them pronouns, which was the other super awesome part. Sal is genderfluid, and I thought the story handled it really well. Granted, I'm cis, so I'm not speaking from lived experience, but I thought it was well done how Sal expressed their gender and stood up for it as well when necessary. It was straightforward and unapologetic how they handled it, and certainly something I was extremely happy to see a main character refuse to compromise on. As a note, Miller has stated that even though Sal uses he and she pronouns at times in the story, they/them is the best way to address them in reviewing, in case you're also thinking of reading this and writing a review.

In addition to Sal, I really liked the love interest, who's bi, smart, and cute as hell. I also loved the Left Hand, the group of assassins Sal is auditioning to join. They each had a distinct personality that slowly unveiled as the auditioners dealt with them more, and one of them had a particular secret that I'll admit I didn't see coming despite the clues leading up to it.

On top of all that, I liked the plot. Most fantasy tournaments involve magic and rules to prevent participants from dying, but this tournament is entirely without magic and based on who survives long enough to reach the end. It's an audition for assassins, so of course it's based around killing the competition without leaving a trace. Of course anyone could die. And somehow, even though everyone is referred to by number throughout the competition, there are a few competitors who start to come alive, and there's one I'm hoping to see more of in the sequel.

The only thing that really gave me pause was the worldbuilding. As much as I had a great time with the fast-moving plot and watching Sal in action, all adaptability and vengeance, the worldbuilding tended to lean towards info-dumps, and I couldn't visualize the countries that were supposed to be at war and where they were and why exactly they'd been fighting. It felt too fast, too much, whenever more worldbuilding was introduced, especially the rules of magic that once flourished as that gradually pertained to the story. Some of it felt a lot like a plot device, and didn't feel very organic as a result. More than once, I had to reread a passage to get a proper grasp on what was going on because of this. Occasionally, given the face pace, scenes would also hop in such a way that I was confused and had to backtrack a little to regain my bearings. It slowed my reading a bit to have to do that, and I really wish the book had had a map in it for clarity's sake.

Still, though, I came out of the book absolutely delighted and having a really fun time, and I'm SO READY to open up Ruin of Stars, especially since this is a duology! Long live fantasy duologies because anything longer tries my patience and my wallet!

teabeakay's review

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slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.0

Listen, I love the premise of the book, I LOVE the diversity of characters, I just feel like the writing really lets things down. I can see so much potential here, but I kept losing track of what was happening, or getting confused about descriptions (a 'short, long building'). There's a lot of telling rather than showing, too. Needed to brew a little longer, which is sad because truly, I wanted to like it. 

zenny's review against another edition

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5.0

I really enjoyed this story. The non binary protagonist just made my heart swell plus effing assassins! Never have I highlighted so many sections on my Kindle before. I can't wait to read the sequel.

pageswithmadisonpaige's review against another edition

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5.0

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinions.

I thought this was fantastic! It was honestly everything I wanted Throne of Glass to be (don't get me wrong, I liked Throne of Glass but it was missing a little something that this book had). It definitely has an edge that puts in more of a "new adult" than "young adult" category, if that's a thing you pay attention to and/or prefer in a book. I can't wait for the next one!

dannithereader's review against another edition

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I don’t have anything against this book. I started it and then put it down to read a hold from Libby. I moved on and just have no interest in finishing it.

thereadingfaery's review against another edition

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5.0

Wow. Just wow. It’s been days since I read this, and I’m still not sure how to do review this properly, because I still haven’t processed it. I absolutely loved it. It started out a bit slow, but the pace just got faster throughout, and I have to say, the slow beginning actually added to the plot, to the tension and excitement. Sal felt realistic and relatable, and I loved to see how they grew through the book, and I also loved the romance. It didn’t take any attention from the action or the plot – in fact, it only added to the tension.

I loved reading about Sal!

Despite Mask of Shadows being a High Fantasy, Sal felt very realistic. It was easy to relate to them and it was interesting to read about them. Sal also grew a lot through the book, and it was amazing to follow their journey. And I have to say something about the diversity in this book. Way too often in Fantasy, I feel like there isn’t any diversity, and if there is, it feels a bit like it’s there just for the sake of it being there. It’s the complete opposite with Mask of Shadows, it feels completely natural and it’s so important.

The romance was really sweet and so intense!

I really liked how the author portrayed the romance between Sal and Elise, it progressed slowly through the whole book, which made it feel realistic. Also, I have to say they are simply too cute together! I shipped them from the moment Sal robbed her, which is definitely a first for me. I just really love how they interact with each other, from the moment they first met – not to mention the tension that is there from the beginning. This is how romance should be portrayed in Fantasy books!

The world-building is what dreams are made of!

First of all, the author has created such an amazing, unique and utterly interesting world – from the first page, you just have to know more, making it impossible to stop reading, even for just a moment (who cares about school, anyway, I can study after I’m finished). I had no idea what to think about anything, because Miller breaks every single popular trope, and I loved it! And secondly, she does it in such a great way, leaving small hints and pieces of information that only leaves you wanting more. Any author who wants to know how to hook a reader should take lessons from Linsey Miller, because she has it down to an art.

The plot had me hooked from the first page!

As I mentioned earlier, the plot started out a bit slow, but not slow enough that it was ever boring. Instead, that slow start worked as build-up, and the tension and action only intensified from that point. It grew and grew and grew, until I had trouble breathing and reading at the same time.

The writing is bursting with tension.

The writing is seriously amazing. No matter what type of scene it is, there was always a ton of tension in the writing, and I swear my heart never stopped beating frantically in my chest. The writing just had that unique quality that is hard to put your finger on that has the reader on the edge of their seat, holding their breath, anxious for what’s going to happen next. I can go on and on about everything that was amazing about this book, but the truth is, no matter how great the plot, characters or romance is, in order to enjoy a book to this extent, that tension in the writing has to be there, or you won’t enjoy it that much. And Miller’s writing has it and so much more!

This is a book everyone should read!

It’s filled to the brim with emotion, and it is honestly incredible how well Miller portrays every feeling, making it hard to separate the characters’ feelings from your own. With relatable characters, world-building that is out-of-this-world, and tension from the first page, Mask of Shadows will take you on a journey that you won’t forget. But a piece of advice before you start reading (and you need to read it, okay? Just do it); make sure to read it on a day you have free, because you will not be able to put it down.

krystimuggle's review against another edition

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3.0

I enjoyed Linsey Miller's MASK OF SHADOWS. The best part of this novel by far was main character Sal, who is not only dynamic, driven, and resourceful, but is also the first gender fluid character that I have read in any novel. Ever. That's a big deal folks!

There are a lot of components of this story that I liked. There were a couple of supporting characters who were well-developed and interesting, there were hints of a dark power looming throughout the story, and the assassin audition, while not entirely original, was nonetheless entertaining.

I just wish there was more. I truly feel like this book needed at least another 100 pages for Miller to truly develop more of the characters, to showcase more of the audition, and to show us the magic system, which was really only hinted at.

I do think Miller has amazing potential as an author, and I will be eagerly awaiting her next novel, because there are so many great beginnings here. With a little more detail, this book could have really been great, and I'm hoping that the next book in the series will further build on the story elements created here.