Rating: 5/5 stars
I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this book through a Twitter giveaway hosted by its agent, Kurestin Armada, and oh boy, this book was a rollercoaster of emotions. It was the type of book that I had to put everything else on hold to read, which is always the best kind. (This review is spoiler free!)
The LGBT rep in this book is what attracted me in the first place—namely, an asexual protagonist, an M/M relationship, and queer characters whose stories don’t revolve around their sexuality. This type of representation makes me so, so happy. And speaking of our protagonist, Amastan’s humility and orderliness made him a genuinely likeable and compelling character. A reluctant member of a family of assassins, he must find the killer of one of Ghadid’s Drum Chiefs before it is too late. And several days after finishing the book, I’m still thinking about the big reveal of the culprit.
The setting of Ghadid itself was another highlight of the book for me: a Middle-East inspired city suspended on platforms high above the sands below, where water is crucial and jaan (AKA people’s spirits) must be tethered to the dead lest they run wild. It was a refreshing change from the typical western-inspired settings in fantasy, and the worldbuilding felt fleshed out and unique.
All of this was executed brilliantly with fast-pacing and a healthy dose of foreshadowing, while still managing not to reveal any of the key plot twists too quickly. It raised some important questions along the way about the morality of killing—when is a murder justified?—and what it takes to be the perfect assassin (see what I did there?). The story was carefully thought out through clever prose, and I devoured every page of it.
Is this book on your radar? (If not, it should be!) Let me know your thoughts in the comments!