Pairings Project: THE PERFECT ASSASSIN by K.A. Doore
TLDR: Immersive worldbuilding and characters you won’t find anywhere else make this a book that will keep you thirsty, even after the rains come.
The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore is one of those books that fully submerges you in its world (ironic in a desert world). In cities lifted high above the sands on elaborate platforms, a family of assassins keep the peace by meting out justice when it’s called for. Or at least they did, before they were stripped of their mandate and backing by Ghadid’s council. All of this suits Amastan just fine; he’s in training to fulfill his family’s legacy and become an assassin, but he’d be perfectly fine if he never took a life. He’d rather study history, sit with scrolls, and live his quiet life.
Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if the main character could avoid his sacred calling forever. Murder is dropped in Amastan’s path, and before he and his cousins are blamed for the death, he must find the killer and bring him or her to justice. He puts to use all of the skills he’s learned as he draws out the killer, avoids the restless and murderous spirits of the dead, and unravels the secrets of a community he thought he knew.
Author Doore does an amazing job with her slow-build mystery, allowing the world of Ghadid to come alive and giving Amastan a chance to stretch his legs and figure out exactly what his place is in this world. Is he a quiet historian or a sacred assassin? Is he a lover, a fighter, or something else altogether? (Spoiler: he is the most perfect cinnamon roll, and I would protect him at all costs, but he’s more than capable of that on his own. And his cousins are more than up to the task as well.) He is both a bit of an outsider to his world, and absolutely a product of it. I can’t imagine any of the characters anywhere but where they are; they are truly products of Ghadid, and it’s a testament to Doore’s deft writing.
The book is ultimately a tale of family, duty, finding oneself and being true to that identity, and the struggle between honoring the past and one’s elders while building a future one can live with. The world-building entranced me: the desert, the sand, it was so damn atmospheric, I get thirsty thinking about it. Truly one of the more immersive worlds I’ve experienced this year.
On top of that, the queer representation is something that has pushed this book to the top of many readers’ lists. Asexual, gay, lesbian—it’s a truly affirming book, and as I mentioned, the ability for the characters to discover themselves makes it one of the best fantasy books to tackle questions of identity. No one has to defend their sexuality or identity; it’s all a matter of discovery and exploration as these young characters find their place in the world. I can’t wait to read the sequel (which is on my bookshelf as we speak, and torturing me in this insane month!).
In the end, Doore is a brilliant writer, and I am so excited to see both what she does with Ghadid and where she goes afterward.
Keep reading for a COCKTAIL PAIRING!
Though the characters of THE PERFECT ASSASSIN, drink almost exclusively tea, and value water above all things, an alcoholic cocktail seems a little incongruous to pair with the book. But it’s my blog, and I chose to do cocktail pairings, so there.
Seeing as the restless spirits of the dead are key players in this book, it seemed appropriate to pair this book with The Corpse Reviver. Despite its dire name, the corpse reviver is a light and refreshing drink, and incredibly easy to make if you have all of the ingredients.
The Corpse Reviver
.75 oz gin
.75 oz orange liqueur
.75 oz lillet blanc
.75 oz lemon juice
If you have it, give the glass an absinthe rinse, though you can absolutely skip this if you don’t have absinthe on hand (I never do.). The drink does not suffer from its lack.
Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.