ASSISTANT TO THE VILLAIN by Hannah Nicole Maehrer – SFFWorld

It might not have escaped your consideration, readers, that fiction likes its little labels, whether or not it’s ‘grimdark’, ‘cosy fantasy’, ‘BookTok’ or the like.

The newest I’ve come throughout is ‘Romantasy’, or maybe that needs to be ‘ROMANTASY’, because it appears to seem on my newest assessment covers. It appears to have caught folks’s consideration of late, the most recent label by the TikTok technology.

Though the time period could also be new to me, its traits will not be. I don’t find out about you, however my preliminary ideas had been that this is able to be a e-book of damsels in misery, swooning in a Jane Austen form of method, over hunky bare-torso-ed males. Maybe with the form of cowl that Mills and Boon can be happy with. Not my standard supply of studying, being a near-60-year-old cis white male.

However I’ll strive something. And on this event, my perseverance was justified. Though my cynical abstract above just isn’t flawed in some methods, it’s flawed in lots of others.

Assistant to the Villain is an attention-grabbing e-book, because it confounds the reader in its telling. It reads simply however just isn’t facile. Whereas the characters swoon and lust as anticipated, there’s a figuring out mischievousness all through that signifies that we don’t take the e-book too severely. There’s a figuring out wink, a sly grin, a normal feeling that sure, that is all a bit foolish, however you go together with it. It’s a lot of enjoyable. It’s quite like Gru’s Minions, however in additional of a Fantasy setting.

In addition to being about life, household and friendship, which some properly added minor characters besides, the novel’s additionally about organisation, administration and workplace politics, which jogged my memory quite of the unruly behaviour in Jodi Taylor’s St. Mary’s collection – that mixture of humour and foolish hijinks with only a sprinkling of catty gossip.

In fact, the baddie (the VILLAIN, in capital letters) just isn’t actually the baddie, and the writer manages to make this misunderstood particular person appear OK. While there are folks killed and heads eliminated, it’s normally simple to really feel that the deaths had been justified or a minimum of acceptable, as it’s normally those that have chosen to kill earlier than or – heaven forbid! – threatened our key characters.

On the destructive aspect, there are factors the place the e-book is a bit one-note, the place conditions are a little bit too handy. The true dangerous particular person of the novel was a little bit underwhelming. I managed to identify them early, however ultimately didn’t actually really feel that such a personality could possibly be the true villain. Nevertheless, the energy of the e-book is that you just’re keen to disregard these discrepancies for the sake of the characters.

The one factor that basically spoilt this temper of normal amusement all through for me was the cliff-hanger ending, though comprehensible.

To sum up then, Assistant to the Villain is a enormously entertaining learn, with characters you get to love and care about. Don’t let the time period ‘romantasy’ put you off, because it did me a little bit. This one’s a number of enjoyable and exhibits us that Fantasy novels shouldn’t be taken severely on a regular basis. For followers of Jodi Taylor wanting a narrative of the same simple model however with dragons and goblins, Assistant to the Villain is that this 12 months’s Lattes and Legends for me, I believe. Really helpful.

ASSISTANT TO THE VILLAIN by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Printed by Penguin/Transworld, September 2023

ISBN: 978 180 499 3385

342 pages

Assessment by Mark Yon

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