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ARC REVIEW: The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore (4.5 Stars)

Cover of The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore, depicting a young man wearing a wrap and tagel who is captured mid-jump and holding a dagger

Rating: Rating of four-and-a-half out of five stars represented by bumblebees (4.5 out of 5)

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target. — Goodreads

I requested an eARC of The Perfect Assassin on NetGalley—I’m late reviewing this, I know!—because I’d heard about the queer and specifically asexual representation, and I’m so glad I finally managed to pick this up.

The Perfect Assassin is set in a world that draws inspiration from medieval Persia and Arabia. Ghadid is a city sitting on a platform raised high above the desert sands, with water being pumped up from aquifers that collect the rain water from the storms at the end of the dry season. I thought the world building was fascinating, but it wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have wished. I want to know more about the detailed workings of this world, its history, its technology…

The main character, Amastan, has just completed his training as an assassin belonging to a long line of assassins that supposedly keep the peace in the city of Ghadid. He’s also a historian, and I love historians. But most importantly, he is on the asexual and aromantic spectrum, and he also finds himself entangled in a complicated relationship with another man. Something I really like about Ghadid is that queerness appears to be casually accepted.

He didn’t like flirting. It made him uncomfortable. […] It all seemed a terribly messy ordeal, and to what end? Touching? Kissing? Sex? He didn’t want any of that.

I love this precious aro ace spectrum baby gay. Amastan’s relationship with Yufit isn’t without its complexities, but it was also really cute. It was the first time that Amastan experienced being attracted to someone, and he was left puzzling out his feelings as well as a murder investigation. I’m curious as to whether we’ll see more of Yufit in the sequel. (I hope so, so fingers crossed!)

I also really loved Amastan’s friend, Menna. A brash and brazen girl who trained alongside Amastan to become an assassin, she has the power to banish jaan and to wheedle Amastan incessantly. Though she likes to tease, she’s also a loyal friend and always has Amastan’s back.

Amastan’s narrative voice was very engaging, even though I didn’t always agree with his assessments. He seems invested in doing the right thing, which is something that I tend to appreciate in a character.

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

The mystery and political intrigue were compellingly written and the author left me guessing who the mysterious assassin was for the majority of the book. Overall, this was a very enjoyable read, and I’m excited for the sequel. I would definitely recommend The Perfect Assassin to anyone who enjoys high fantasy in desert settings, religiously inspired magic, and assassins going bump in the night.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review! All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and might not match the published version.

Have you read The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore? What did you think? Let’s chat in the comments below!


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