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Book Review: The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore

Or: A Lesson In Why A Cinnamon Roll Assassin is Worth Sand In Uncomfortable Places

Title: The Perfect Assassin

Author: K. A. Doore

Genre: Fantasy; LGBTQ+

Page Count: 347

Rating: Four outta Five

Content Warnings: Death and violence, death of a family member, murder, grief, injury, near death, fire death, shame and guilt, suicide.

*This is a spoiler-free review! Enjoy!*

“‘You know, sometimes you can just…be. Look at the world. Enjoy the moment. We never know how many moments G-d will grant us, after all, and it’s always far fewer than we’d expect.’”

This one’s lots of sand in uncomfortable places; meets zoo tram shortcuts; meets superstitions and paranoia that get in the way; meets questioning every move you make 101; meets dark academia; meets Aladdin with a dash of Agatha Christie and The Office; meets being beholden to family legacy; meets wishing you had actually taken a job as a historian and wondering why you felt ashamed by that in the first place; meets supernatural and death traditions from different cultures; meets ABSOLUTELY TOO MUCH RUNNING; meets maybe read this in the hottest days of your area’s summer so you can empathize; meets “we can’t keep meeting like this”; meets when you make a plan at the office and it goes to crap because your coworker doesn't care about the plan; meets the world’s most complicated Brita filter; meets the old guy that gives Link the Master Sword in The Legend of Zelda; meets a slow-burn romance you aren’t sure is a slow-burn romance; meets haunteddd wiiinnnnd [said in a spooky voice].

To be honest, I did judge this book by its cover. I wasn’t thrilled to read it at first, though the title did catch me. But, boy oh boy, am I glad I had book club to introduce me to this story and this author.

“There were at least fifteen different ways to kill someone with that screwdriver.”

If you’re tired of Anglo-centric fantasy, then this book is ABSOLUTELY for you. Set in a seemingly Arabic-type culture, this book pushes conventional fantasy out of its comfort zone. The author doesn’t shy away from immersing you within the environment, pulling on supernatural elements from other cultures to build a new type of fantasy that is both more natural and more intense. And although on the shorter side for a work in this genre, this book balances the setting descriptions with the incredible fight scenes and intrigue that you would expect from a good fantasy story. I never felt disappointed or bored regarding the assassins’ fighting skills and presentation - on the contrary, I felt like the fighting style was clearer and more well-paced than most novels I’ve read, which gave a better visual image.

Balancing out the intensity of the setting and the, ya know, assassins of the story is the complicated and interesting presentation of the main character, ‘Stan. Having a morally gray assassin or a multifaceted main character isn’t a new concept, but ‘Stan's particular sensitivity and his coming of age over the course of the narrative provide a softer, even gentler, aspect in comparison to the rest of the novel. Particularly poignant are the refreshing moments of adolescent living - liking someone, small jealousies, the unsureness of liking someone, petty arguing between friends. It’s well incorporated amidst the supernaturally charged environment that’s full of fear, tension, tradition, and magic.

“‘We all think we’re right,’ said Amastan, slowly and carefully. ‘Even the monsters. But how do you know when you’re the monster?’”

In the end, the story was a *tad* predictable - it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to figure out. But that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking or impactful. Thanks to a likable main character, the ending still packs a punch (assassin pun intended) and makes the book well worth reading.

I give this book four out of five street ghosts.

Have you read something today? You should.

Until our next story,

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