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

Title: The Perfect Assassin

Author: K.A. Doore

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication date: March 19, 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: By day, Amastan is an apprentice scribe. By night, he is one of the Basbowen family’s newest assassins. Serving as the knife of Ghadid, the assassins only kill when there is a contract. Fortunately for Amastan, who is unwilling to take a life, there are no contracts.  Thinking himself safe from having to kill someone, he continues to train with his cousins and unexpectedly comes across the hidden body of a Drum Chief, one of the leaders of Ghadid. The Drum Chiefs decide it will be the Basbowen family’s job to find out who killed him, and the job passes to Amastan. Keeping this task a secret, Amastan discovers someone is also killing assassins, leaving their bodies hidden so their jaan will run wild through the city and take more lives. It is up to Amastan to discover the killer and survive against increasingly powerful, angry jaan who would also have his blood.

I’m one of those fantasy readers who enjoys the typical magic, dragons, and Medieval setting. Of course, I read beyond that, but I’m always drawn to them. I was intrigued by this book’s description, but a little apprehensive about actually reading it. Once I started, though, I had a tough time putting it down.

Far from the Medieval setting, Ghadid is clearly in the desert where the rains come for a season and the water must then last until the next rain season. As a desert city, it’s culture was closely tied to the sands and water, but was richly imagined. It’s not the kind of place I’d like to visit, but reading the book made me feel like I was there. I loved how well the setting, culture, and story wove together seamlessly.

I loved that the story kept moving and something new was always being discovered. Instead of getting bogged down in the history and description of Ghadid, it was woven through the narrative without being too much or too little. Doore did a great job at dropping the reader into the story and letting them figure things out as the story unfolded without everything becoming too confusing. At the beginning, I would have appreciated some description of what jaan were. I was puzzled for a couple of chapters, but it became readily apparent what they are quite quickly, especially when Amastan came face to face with one. They’re an intriguing piece, and I did end up enjoying figuring them out on my own. The mystery of what they are adds to the feeling of fear of them. I completely understand Amastan’s fear of jaan.

My one complaint would be that I figured out who the assassin was about halfway through the book. During the first half, I had no clue even though it turned out we’d been introduced to the assassin early on. Something seemed to change during the second half, though, and it felt like it was clear as day, which made me feel like Amastan must be as a dense as a brick. Either that or blinded by his unsettling feelings towards this person. It was a little jarring and somewhat annoying. Looking past that, though, in the grand scheme, it really didn’t do too much to disrupt my enjoyment. After all, the best parts came after the revelation.

The whole book is wonderful. I tried to stretch out the reading as I really didn’t want to have to think about what to read next, but I couldn’t stop picking it back up. Fantasy and mystery mingled perfectly. The setting was breathtaking and, while the mystery eventually lost steam, it kept me guessing throughout the first half. But the best parts really are at the end. If the first two-thirds were great, that last third is just amazing. The story becomes action-packed and I had to remind myself to breathe.

The Perfect Assassin is the first book in the Chronicles of Ghadid series. I loved the first book so much I want to keep my eye on this series and see what Doore turns out next.

How many cups of tea will you need?

Definitely 5 cups of tea.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy. All opinions are my own.

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