I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Guild Assassin by Berley Kerr
Series: Curse Breaker #1
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on July 28, 2014
Wendy Magdalena Braca lived in a Victorian mansion under three moons in Jupiter City. But her privileged upbringing falters when after the death of her father and the murder of her mother, she is shipped away to Greenleaf Asylum for Troubled Girls and lived there for years until she is “rescued” by a strange guild that shows Wendy their world; the world of Guild Assassins made up of the Cæcus (normal humans), the Validus (magic-users), and Half-Breeds (demi-gods). In this world, Wendy discovers she is the most special and powerful Validus known to exist, the Curse Breaker.
My Initial Reaction…
Guild Assassin was my first Steampunk read and, though I have to say I’m still really confused about the genre, I really enjoyed this alternate world.
The main character in Guild Assassin was too all over the place for me to decide how I feel about her. As a child, Wendy has it tough. Her father dies and her mother doesn’t handle it well – she takes in man after man, from the pool boy to Wendy’s tutor. Wendy seems to hate her mother, until her mother is murdered. Through a series of events that I won’t tell you (because it would spoil things), Wendy ends up in a psychiatric hospital and goes through some truly terrible abuse. But the Wendy that emerges from this really tough and quite sad childhood doesn’t match for me at all.
For one, she’s really focused on finding her mother’s killer and avenging her mother’s death. I get the focus, but not the motivation. Wendy hated her mother and nothing about her teenage & adult mind suggests to me that Wendy’s view of her mom has changed. If this was about revenge for what happened to Wendy, then I’d get it – but that’s not the motivation presented.
Secondly, Wendy – like most the other Guild members she ends up living with – is so emotionally off. The relationship drama was so juvenile – and while the characters are in their late teens and early 20s, it really didn’t match who they were the rest of the time. I can’t quite describe the problem, but there was a disconnect across the board between characters emotions (and the behavior it drove them to) and who they seemed to be the rest of the time, for me.
As I already mentioned, Guild Assassin was my first steampunk novel and I was hoping I would leave it better understanding what that genre is all about. I still haven’t got a clue. I mean we’ve got corsets and some Victorian-like world references, but is that what makes it steampunk?
Genre questions aside, I really liked the world Berley Kerr created in Guild Assassin and that’s probably the main reason I’m giving this 3.5, rather than a 3 stars. The characters live in an alternate stream of history – at some point things shifted direction because of technological advances that allowed humans to colonize the moon and eventually go beyond that and settle on other planets that shared characteristics of the earth (called the Mother Country). I really loved the attention to details too – the passing of time and the feeling of gravity varies from planet to planet, for example. That was something I was prepared for him to overlook, but it was integrated seamlessly.
The world of the Guilds was unique and fun too. Basically going all the way back through history there have been people of immense power – the people of legend, like Greek Gods and even vampires, that are actually real. They exist in this complex structure of Guilds that compete for power. The second half of the book – after the mess with Wendy in the asylum (which was pretty fantastic reading BTW) – is caught up in this power struggle.
I loved the power struggle dynamics and Wendy’s training to be part of this world was really enjoyable. What threw me were the missions. Kind of like the character emotions, these missions felt off and sometimes juvenile. In some ways they were great, but the characters would behave almost like teenagers on a vacation with a high-stakes game than people in a life-or-death mission. I really would have like to see those missions brought to a more sophisticated, believable level. They were close, but not quite there.
All in all, I really enjoyed Guild Assassin. While there were some elements that were off for me, I was swept away in the world and couldn’t put the book down. I look forward to reading the next book!