Curse Breaker: Guild Assassin

Guild Assassin - Berley Kerr

Thank you to Curious Quills Press for providing me with a copy of the book to review.

           

I have rather mixed feelings about the book, and after taking a look at other reviews posted it seems I’m not the only one who came to these conclusions as well as paid attention to the things I did.

           

I loved the premise, loved the description of Jupiter City and the three moons and was instantly drawn to this book for that reason. The descriptions in this book are very vivid to the point where the whole thing felt more like watching a movie in your head rather than simply just reading a book. And in that sense, this was both a positive and a negative. For readers who adore descriptions, and I mean lengthy ones that often go on for several paragraphs at a time, encompassing everything from clothing to hair colour to smell, then this will be an amazing book because it does those things very well. For myself, who likes a nice mix of telling and showing, this book soon got to the point where it showed more than it told, and it really slowed down the reading progress. Some books, such as Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus”, are built on the whole description aspect of the story. This book, with its intense plot and large cast of characters, didn’t seem as fitting for the storytelling method the author chose.

           

The characters are another point that really stood out after the storytelling. I must agree with several other reviewers and say that Wendy was a character I couldn’t connect with. Worse than that though, I couldn’t really visualize her. It’s later discovered that she has Spanish ancestry and even spoke Spanish with her parents, as a first language. But I didn’t get any of that from the way she acted, nor was she described in a way that made me see this. Ironically, in fact, is that considering all the descriptions and attention to atmosphere and setting, Wendy was given perhaps the least amount of attention in the sense that, for most of the book, I still felt like I was reading about a total stranger. Her reaction to some things could’ve been stronger, especially in the beginning when she experiences the horrors of Greenleaf asylum. Only at the end, when she talks about her guilt and all the built up struggles and feelings, did her reaction feel logical. I wish the same could’ve been seen in the beginning, it would’ve made for a much more realistic character that would draw empathy from the reader.

           

The rest of the cast was better, much more lively, but still I feel like something was missing. They each had their individuality and quirks, and in the case of Burian I was really happy that my prediction of him and Wendy being together didn’t come true. The problem could’ve been fixed if the border between telling and showing was altered and more time was spent on adding events that made the characters grow rather than spending so much time developing the story and the world. As great as the latter is, if the characters don’t win the reader over, there’s a potential problem in that.

           

A note should be made that this isn’t exactly a steampunk novel. There are elements of it, but the cover was a bit misleading, albeit appropriate considering how the characters in the book were dressed. It was more of an adventure story that blended some sci-fi and steampunk in equal dosses, the resulting world being a rather intriguing one. The plot with the Guilds was something I was neither hot nor cold about. It was one that felt familiar with its division between the Half-Breeds, regular ‘mortal’ humans, and the upper-class inhuman race. I did like the reworking of historical events though and the way events like Titanic occurred for a completely different reason, in the book’s universe. It was a nice new twist, although the main meat of the plot was something I wasn’t too surprised by, nor completely impressed with. Still, I went with it, and as the story progressed and Rosalia and Robert explained their point of view and reasoning behind their actions, I warmed up to it more.

           

The amount of time it takes me to finish a book is usually a good indicator of whether or not I enjoy it. In this case, it’s a mix of pros and cons, but I must say that with this book, the time was more because I chose to read this book slowly and allow it to draw me into its world. Things like the occasional type and, as I mentioned, the partial overkill of details sometimes slowed the reading process down, but in the end I’m glad I didn’t give up on this one and finished it. many of my questions were answered throughout the story (another plus) and I had a general feeling of satisfaction once I finished, which means that even with all the bumps in the road, the author succeeded. What this book might’ve needed was a little more time and editing, but let’s not beat a dead horse.