“Her breath came in quick, ragged gasps as panic nibbled away at her thoughts.”
On her way home from her volunteer shift at the local soup kitchen, Cerena can’t shake the feeling that someone with sinister intentions is stalking her. Are the footfalls she hears behind her a mere figment of her imagination? Unfortunately, what lovely Cerena doesn’t know is that not all of her enemies are strangers…
The Assassin’s Remorse, the debut short story from fantasy author JMD Reid (who moonlights as erotica author Reed James) is an absorbing, quick read. Both accessible for fantasy fans and those new to the genre, this tale of murder, greed, and redemption offers a tasty morsel of the author’s talent.
My favorite elements
– Without a doubt, the strongest parts of the story were the beginning to the middle. The first third of the book comprises a riveting passage of solid suspense-building. Was Cerena really being followed, or was it all in her head? What would become of her? I adore it when a story can surprise me, and the shocking conclusion of the first act did just that.
– Reid’s rich, colorful prose stood out from the crowd. I could taste, smell, see, hear, touch everything. Admittedly, I have an inherent fondness for palatable imagery.
– I could actually pronounce all of the characters’ names! That’s not always common in fantasy books (I’m always secretly horrified by names like “Ha-Shi-Mch’ra” and all that jazz).
– The author’s creative take on religion and faith in this alternative universe served as one of the story’s strong suits. Elohm’s (God) existence and the presence of the jewelchines (virtues) reinforced the book’s key themes of divine retribution and forgiveness.
– I appreciated the world-building. It’s enjoyable to visit an unfamiliar landscape when the descriptions provide a pleasurable reading experience.
– The cover art is stunning, and evocative of the subject matter. I can’t praise this artist/author collaboration highly enough.
– The last third of the book, although satisfying in a way, still left something to be desired. I felt it was a bit rushed – the assassin’s character transition didn’t ring quite true for me. I needed to know more about his background as a person in order to fully believe his shift from cold-blooded killer to a changed man struggling for redemption.
– Less repetitive mentions of haunting, disembodied eyes would have tightened up the story’s flow. A nitpick for sure, and one to be taken lightly at that.
– There were a few minor grammatical errors/typos/formatting issues, but they didn’t sully my general enjoyment of the story. Still, it’s worth mentioning.
The Assassin’s Remorse was a more-than-competent first effort from JMD Reid. With a little help from skilled beta readers and a good editor, his work will shine like the treasure-trove it’s meant to be. There’s no doubt – I’ll be on the lookout for the next story Reid releases.
Reviews Up Next
“An Insurrection (A Sword and Shield Short Book 1)” by A.S. Washington
My Prison Without Bars by Taylor Evan Fulks
The Dead Lands by Dylan J. Morgan
Wondering what makes an odd duck like me tick? Check out my Smashwords interview.