Mask Of Shadows ARC Review

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)

Sallot Leon is a highway robber who wants to escape that dangerous yet tedious life. Sal stole a flyer for the audition for The Left Hand, Queen’s personal assassins, and so Sal jumps on the opportunity to infiltrate the court and get revenge for the attack that killed Sal’s family members and destroyed Sal’s village. The audition is filled with many contestants, and they are allowed to kill each other, sometimes, to get towards the goal of winning. Sal moves forward in the competition, starts a romantic relationship with the court scribe Elise who is teaching Sal how to write, and tries to survive as the competition becomes more deadly.

Okay, so the big kicker about this is supposed to be that Sal is genderfluid throughout the book. One of the contestants has a problem with this and is a bit rude, but otherwise nothing really happens. Heck, in the competition the judges ask Sal which pronouns they should use! However, this seems really strange. Clearly there are people in the world that still do not support genderfluid citizens. It seems strange to me that the judges would make even the slightest effort to make anyone comfortable when they have permission to kill each other and when they are training to be an assassin. Not that I wanted to see more people be rude to Sal, but it seemed kinda easy in the book to be a genderfluid thief/assassin in training. But then, it seems as if there was more opposition outside the area, because when the maid decided to keep Sal’s measurements for both male and female clothing secret, probably to not tell anyone if Sal had male or female genitals, Sal almost started crying, as if this was the nicest thing. If everyone was really accepting, it would have been normal for that to happen. And if the area was split on the issue, then why were the judges so willing to accept Sal, ask questions about Sal, and even reprimand other opponents for Sal? It just seemed to be hypocritical.

The story itself besides the unique main character did not seem to be that special. It was basically the usual “fend for yourself” type of situation. No one else but the maid and the slightly protective judges cared or tried to help anyone else in the competition, but they followed the rules about killing times and types of killing mostly. Overall, the story itself was just average, and the whole genderfluid situation was confusing. I will give it an okay rating as it is new, and if the series improves from this point on then I can definitely learn to like all of the characters.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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