Ruin of Stars ★★★★☆

9781492647522-300RGBY’all. I’m still a mess whenever I think about Mask of Shadows. And then along came Ruin of Stars? More like RUINED MY HEART!

The thrilling conclusion to the Mask of Shadows duology that weaves a tale of magic, shadows, and most importantly, revenge.

As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father.

But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten.

Excuse me while I go mop up the shreds of my broken heart and my tears from the floor!

I championed Mask of Shadows from the get-go. I loved me some genderfluid assassin babies. Sal was the heart of my heart, and then I got my grubby little queer hands on Ruin of Stars and I couldn’t have been happier.

And then I read it.

And then I cried.

A lot.

Like, more than usual.

Y’all know I’m a tender heart, I cry at everything.

But especially this.

Okay, okay, serious reviewer mode!

I won’t lie, the first ~20% were slow to start. It felt like a long uphill battle to get anywhere, but once we crested that hill and things started hitting the fan… well, we really got to rolling and it just wouldn’t stop.

Sal faced more brutality, more emotion, more queerness and I loved it.

We were introduced to so many more queer characters and we got to dive deeper into who Sal is and who they were becoming.

Also, 100% more Maud. Every Maud scene was amazing.

And then there was the epilogue….

When we interviewed Linsey on our podcast, she mentioned something about an extended epilogue and honestly… I need it. I need an entire novella of that epilogue because O. M. G.

I’m just going to go run off and cry some more about this book, y’all. Don’t mind me. There’s extra mops downstairs if my tears start to flood things.

Don’t forget, Booknerds! We’re part of the Ruin of Stars blog tour! Check out the excerpt and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win two copies of Ruin of Stars!

An Interview with Linsey Miller

This week Maggie interviewed Linsey Miller, author of Mask of Shadows and the upcoming Ruin of Stars. Make sure to visit BookedAllNight.blog to check out the blog tour which includes: this amazing exclusive interview, the full first chapter, and a publisher run giveaway!

Mask of Shadows – ★★★★☆

29960675Pre-order it here!

Mysterious and tense, Mask of Shadows delivered on almost every promise it had given. I was pulled in by the characters and Linsey Miller’s writing was thrilling and poetic. Plus the representation of genderfluid and other queer identities was everything that fantasy books have been missing. And yet…

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.

The moment I heard that Mask of Shadows had a genderfluid main character, I knew I needed to get my hands on it, whether for reviewing purposes or just pre-ordering it to have and to hold. Then when I learned Mask of Shadows was a fantasy assassin fight to the death story, I was already in love.

Fantasy is a genre close to my heart, one I’ve always loved, but the lack of representation and diverse characters is glaring. In a world where magic and dragons are real, why shouldn’t there be queer characters? Why is a queer main character so unbelievable? Well, that’s a discussion for another blog topic.

I had some hesitations about Mask of Shadows, in that Sal would have been the only queer character and that the book would have used their identity as a marketing ploy; it wouldn’t be the first time books or movies have tried to garner queer readers, simply because we were starved for representation. But in reading, all my hesitations were thrown out the window at how well the representation was handled.

Sal was never only identified by their genderfluidity; they were a thief and an assassin first, a fierce competitor, clever and flirtatious and had terrible aim. The subject of pronouns was brought up, showing how natural asking or presenting pronouns should be, something we in our modern day world can’t seem to handle. Characters asked, “How should I address you?” and when characters that didn’t respect Sal’s pronouns tried to misgender them, that character was corrected (or punched in the mouth, depending on which character was doing the correcting).

Miller’s writing was lyrical and bright in many places, but sometimes I found certain passages confusing and ended up having to read over those several times. It was never enough to throw me out of the story, but it did slow me down. The only reason I can’t give Mask of Shadows five stars is because of the worldbuilding. The little worldbuilding we got left me wanting more, a little confused and sometimes frustrated.

We get a timeline of the history of the world towards the end of the book, but what I would have loved the most is having a map. A fantasy world is hardly complete without a map for readers to peruse and explore, or to reference when it’s brought up in the story. Especially since Mask of Shadows was rife with politics, a map would have been crucial to have. Barring a map, then there could have been better descriptions regarding the nations and the state of the world around the characters. Miller does a fantastic job of painting an intriguing character, but the setting often felt like a vignette: detailed the closer we were to the character, but fuzzy and empty the further away we got.

Mask of Shadows was still an entertaining read and one I think I’ll come back to again and again. If more fantasy books had the representation this one did, I think we queers would be alright.

Waiting on Wednesday #7

Mask of Shadows

Publication Date: August 29th, 2017

Pre-order it here!

29960675I 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.

Genderfluid assassin in a fight to the death to become a royal assassin? HECK YEAH. I got to review this book thanks to NetGalley, but I just can’t wait to hold this book in my hands!