Mask of Shadows

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3 stars (release date Aug. 29, 2017)

I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, it is an ok book. It’s a quick, uncomplicated read, but is definitely not without flaws. The book is a standard YA novel that wants to be compared with Sarah J. Maas’ books, but falls short. The main character, Sallot, is a thief that is part of a crew that steals from wealthy travelers. (Sallot is gender fluid, so “they” switch genders throughout the book.) Sallot discovers that the Queen is having a competition for a new assassin and leaves the crew to compete. Much of the book centers on the competition.
The problems with the book start almost immediately. The story is set about 10 years after a devastating war that killed thousands of people and tore the country apart. Sallot is an orphan of war. Nacea, his/her country and people, were obliterated during the war. He/she blames the lords of Erlend for abandoning the country and leaving them to the slaughter of the “shadows”.

There is little to no world-building, so the reader is left wondering why the nations were at war, who was involved in the war and how the kingdom is now structured. Brief descriptions of the “shadows” atrocities are given, but what they are, how they came to be, why they did what they did and how they were vanquished is told in bits and pieces throughout the book and is still not clear in my mind even after finishing the book. All I know is that “shadows” are bad and allegedly they have all been “killed” by the Queen and can no longer threaten people any more. Apparently they were formed by certain mages using magic, but that’s about all I know. Erlend left Nacea unprotected and the shadows killed everyone, except Sallot. Therefore Sallot’s life is dedicated to avenging the death of his/her family and people. Hence, entering the contest to be one of the Queen’s assassins.

The book is part of a series, but I’m not sure how many are planned. I will probably check out the next book in the series, but if more answers aren’t provided early in the book, am not sure I will stick with it.