I adored The Perfect Assassin, and this companion novel/sequel really lives up to expectations!
Book: The Impossible Contract by KA Doore
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided free of charge via NetGalley. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: blood magic (involving self-harm), and a lot of blood in general.
KA Doore has done it again with a fun, fast-paced fantasy that grabs you from the first page! We get a few glimpses of Amastan, the main character from the first book, but this is more of a companion novel, following Thana, his cousin, who is a great character – she’s a highly-trained assassin, but also a bit of a bad luck magnet, so her contracts don’t often go to plan. I think it does help hugely to have the backstory of the first book, so I would recommend reading in series order, but this isn’t a straightforward continuation of Amastan’s story (which initially disappointed me, as I loved him so much, but I fell equally in love with Thana!), and interestingly, Doore says that this book was actually written first, so you could definitely start here.
I really enjoy the slightly madcap style of these books – there’s always a lot going on, and the characters don’t necessarily know what they’re doing… Thana is a disaster for sure, but so is Heru, the magical scholar she is contracted to murder but ends up tentatively allied to (yep, it’s complicated). The most stable member of their party is Mo, a healer, and Thana’s love interest, but even she spends quite a lot of the book exasperated with the escalating craziness around them, which adds a fun dynamic to the group. Reading this feels like playing a DnD party that’s accidentally walked into a way-too-high-level area – they’re scrambling, but it’s so much fun to watch!
I love this style of action-packed fantasy adventure, and I think it’s the great character work that makes this work so well. There’s a strong thread of wry humour that makes the characters feel really believable in their reactions even when yet another thing is thrown on their plate. Add fun sibling-like bickering between Heru and Thana, and some cute f/f romance, and it just ticks a lot of boxes for me! Perfect for those looking for a light-hearted, fast-paced read with a great setting, and they’d make a great crossover for someone looking for a step up from YA fantasy. Five out of five cats!