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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2021
  • B09D2H9PFJ
  • 524 pages
  • $9.99
Paperback Details
  • 10/2021
  • 979-8782180928
  • 524 pages
  • $22.00
Hardcover Details
  • 10/2021
  • 979-8782180928
  • 524 pages
  • $30.00
Katie Andrews
Author
The Assassin of Grins and Secrets
K.E.Andrews, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Once the infamous assassin who killed with a smile, Serein now waits for death in the fighting pits of the Harpy's Chest. When the crown prince of Sarddon, Rameses al-Amirmoez, seeks her out with an offer of freedom if she serves as his guard, she must decide whether to work for those who ravaged her homeland or die. Rameses wants to believe that the war his father started was justified, but he has heard rumors and seen a cruelty in his father that causes him to question everything he's been told. To find answers, he needs Serein. Uriah Stormheir, Captain of the Oyon's city guard, finds himself caught between his duty to the crown and his friendship with Rameses. His distrust for Rameses' new guard runs deep. As Uriah wrestles with guilt from his past, he must work alongside the dangerous assassin whose true motives are hidden underneath her scars and dark grins. In a land of hot sands and dying magic, Serein plays the game of secrets with Uriah and Rameses, knowing one wrong step could end her life. As the shadows of her past catch up with her, she has to choose between pursuing vengeance and protecting a secret only she knows.
Reviews
Goodreads

I requested an ARC for this book because I'd been following the author on Bookstagram for a while; the snippets and quotes she kept sharing made me really curious. I didn't need to read a blurb anymore to know this book would be right up my alley!

The Assassin of Grins and Secrets is an adult, gritty, epic fantasy story with multiple POV's that would be suitable for any older YA's as well. We have a snarky, conflicted ex-assassin on a revenge quest, political intrigue, action, north african inspired worldbuilding and a ton of beautiful but non-melodramatic prose.
*a sidenote: I understand that there might just be more of it in the next instalment, but book 1 of this series is relatively low-fantasy. There are mostly some hints here and there for magic to come.

Favourites:
- Dialogue: This was the first book I've read by K.E.Andrews and I was deeply impressed by what I believe was one of her biggest strengths: dialogue. There is quite a lot of it in this story, but it's just so REAL. I can only hope that, one day, I'll be able to match her ability to write such realistic, easily flowing dialogue.
- Prose: Andrew's prose are stunning. I've read many a book by authors who aim for beautiful prose but end up with melo-dramatic characters and purple prose. Not so with The Assassin of Grins and Secrets. The way she weaves her story on the page is truly magical.
- Depth & inner conflict: I personally think the inner conflict often makes the character. Every POV character in this book shows inner conflict on various levels that made me, as the reader, emphasize with them and question the decisions that needed to be made. In addition, even the side characters show the depth we need so the world we are in feels real.
- Worldbuilding: immersive. Like any great story, this one made me feel the warm wind on my face, hear the crashing of the waves against the rocks and taste the yummy tagine dishes and flatbreads we encounter in the 'exotic' country that Serein, the protagonist, lives in. We also gt hints at the rest of the wide, wide world, but no info-dumps. Just the way I like it.

What I missed:
There was only one thing that I can mention here, and it's totally a personal preference, nothing more. Andrews' descriptions are fantastic, but sometimes there was just a little bit too much of it for my taste. I know this won't be the case for everyone, but just here and there I could have done with a slightly faster pace and less food description mostly. But that's it, and I wish goodreads allowed the opportunity for 4,5 stars instead!

Sexual content: non-graphic or steamy -->but see content warnings below
Coarse language: none
Violence and gore: moderately graphic
Content warnings: mention of torture, battle and murder, sexual assault and rape (non graphic; nothing really on screen but it is clear what's happened)

Conclusion:
If you like gritty, almost a little dark, descriptive epic fantasy with immersive worldbuilding, beautiful quote-worthy prose, and real people with their own hopes, dreams, painful pasts and conflicts, then I can highly recommend picking up The Assassin of Grins and Secrets. I, for one, know I'll be eagerly looking forward to book 2!

Goodreads

Note: I beta read two earlier versions of this book.

THIS IS GOOD Y'ALL. If you're a fan of complex characters, intricate worldbuilding, decadent food descriptions, and gritty murder, this is the book for you! Serein is a great main character, and her interactions with Uriah and Rameses are so much fun. Her synesthesia in particular makes her way of seeing the world interesting; everything drips with vibrance and color. Also, I love Eneca because she's one of the few good depictions of a sex worker I've seen in fiction.

You want the stabby stab? Read this book.

Goodreads

As soon as I started this book, the Assassin of Grins and Secrets plunged her dagger into my imagination and drove it deeper with each succeeding page. Andrews' vivid descriptions filled with mouth-watering adjectives, explosive verbs, and delightfully obscure but specific nouns transported me into another world, dissolving my reality into a distant mist. This out of body reading experience is rare for me these days. I followed the characters through angst-ridden, heart-pounding, gut-wrenching adventures so real I remembered them in my dreams as my own.
@k.e.andrews is my new standard for showing vs telling with the superb mix of dialogue, inner thoughts, sensual settings, and intense action. It took a chapter to get used to sounds being described as colors, but I found it interesting. I had to reread a sentence occasionally to determine whether a word modified a sound or an object though.
The action sequences and hand-to-hand combat scenes featured the most realistic fights I have ever read. I could visualize every move. Though I practice German longsword and prefer to keep my opponents a little farther away than Serein the assassin, I appreciate her technique. Andrews understands that sword (or knife) fighting is really just fighting with swords, involving wrestling, grappling, and whatever will bring your opponent down. In a world where everyone has hidden motives, enemies lurk around every corner, and no one can be trusted, a girl has to carry around as many blades as possible! Daggers are easier to conceal than scimitars.
Serein enjoys throwing others off balance, whether in the ring or in casual conversation. She guards her secrets closely while discovering as much as she can about everyone else. I loved the journey from mistrust to tentative acceptance between her and the other main characters.

Content warnings:
Blood gushes, bones splinter, and enemies die in gruesome ways. There are also instances of sexual assault and rape, mostly in flashbacks without describing the entire act, but it is disturbing. Serein endures great suffering, but the journey is worth it!

Goodreads

After reading an early pre-pub version of this story, I'm excited to get a physical copy! The main characters are compelling, the magic system is interesting, and the lush worldbuilding has me looking forward to future installments. If you're looking to start a fantasy series that is lovingly written with beautiful detail, you should check out this book to support an Indie author.

Goodreads

Andrews draws you into Cemiyon, a world you never heard of before, but will never forget. You’ll enter the brilliant mind and wounded soul of a young assassin, Serein. She has cheated Death and keeps a relentless grasp on Life because of a secret hidden deep in an Old Kingdom forest. You’ll walk with her on the streets of Oyon, and into a Palace she once vowed to return to for one reason only. Within a few moments, you’ll be so immersed in the colors, aromas, and tastes of this land that your own may seem strange. When you meet a prince and a prostitute, you’ll begin see them as real people, whose struggles intertwine with Serein’s constant battle for Life. Each chapter leaves you wondering and waiting, your mind exploring its own hidden passage ways in attempt to understand, unravel, and discover. Not for the squeamish, but worth the adventure.

Goodreads

With The Assassin of Grins and Secrets, K.E. Andrews creates a world that is enjoyable to inhabit (as long as you’re a safe distance away!). It’s always a pleasure to read a strong female lead in a genre still dominated by male protagonists and Serein is a good one. But I also appreciated when perspectives changed to that of Rameses and Uriah, so that we learnt more about them, and also saw Serein in new ways. I really liked the way colours were used to describe sounds, but at times it did feel a little jarring. The fight sequences throughout were particularly strong and the way in which they were described felt very dynamic. One fight near the end reminded me (in a good way) of a similar fight in Dune. I think fans of Samantha Shannon will really like this book. I’m not usually a fan of longer books, but from the strong opening chapter until the end, Andrews kept me reading and engaged. The epilogue hints at further intrigue and I’m excited to see where the story goes next!

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2021
  • B09D2H9PFJ
  • 524 pages
  • $9.99
Paperback Details
  • 10/2021
  • 979-8782180928
  • 524 pages
  • $22.00
Hardcover Details
  • 10/2021
  • 979-8782180928
  • 524 pages
  • $30.00

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