This was such a neat story. The blurb says it’s Assassin’s Creed meets Fantastic Beasts, but to me it felt more like Pokemon for adults who love fantasy. I loved it.
I hesitated to mention the similarities with Pokemon, because I’m afraid that’ll put people off, and I really enjoyed this book.
The characters live in a world of magical beasts. Not your traditional mythological beasts, but new and interesting beasts. They’re categorised by how dangerous they are. Leena is a Charmer, which means that she can tame the beasts to do her will. However, a Charmer’s skill decides what level of beast they can tame. Only the very best can tame the most dangerous. Wild beasts live in the same world as the people, but the tamed beasts live in a magical world and can be summoned by the Charmer as required. I liked that there were natural limits to how many beasts a Charmer could summon and for how long, before the Charmer became exhausted. The beasts described in this story ranged from adorably cute to deadly and freaky.
Leena has been exiled from her homeland, where most Charmers live. Someone sends an assassin after her, and when Leena takes control of the situation, she bargains with the assassins. Noc is the leader of the assassins, and he transfers the assassin’s oath from the original assassin to himself, then promises Leena that if she can gift him and his friends with a beast each (of a certain level), his men won’t hurt her. A Charmer can transfer ownership of a beast to another, even if that person doesn’t have the ability to Charm a beast on their own. It is forbidden to transfer a beast in exchange for money though, as that would end up with beasts being transferred to those who wouldn’t care for them appropriately.
Noc is cursed, and he particularly wants a beast that will be able to remove his curse. Of course, he doesn’t tell Leena why he wants a particular beast. He also doesn’t tell her that the assassin’s oath that he now holds means that if he doesn’t kill her, he will die in her stead. He promised that his men wouldn’t hurt her, not that he wouldn’t. Of course, as they all go on this mission to find and capture the beasts Leena promised his men, they get to know each other better, and things change. However, there’s still the matter of the unbreakable assassin’s oath, and someone is still trying to kill Leena.
On top of all of that, I loved the writing style. So beautifully descriptive.
Fog-colored paneled walls were laden with oil paintings in stark white frames, and an impossibly long tarnished platinum table was centered beneath a row of chandeliers.
Leena eyed the closest stall and tilted her nose toward the fruitcakes and muffins tossing vanilla and citrus aromas into the air. Every new noise seemed to pull at her attention, and her wide eyes swallowed up the whole street and its occupants.
Beyond the train station and crammed cobblestone houses, as if it were the center of all eternity, stood the Violet Castle.
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting, it was fun, and it kept me guessing because I couldn’t figure out how they were going to overcome the issues. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series.