Cate would do just about anything to be made a member of the Assassin’s Guild at her boarding school. Every year the Assassin’s Guild plays a game called Killer. Throughout the year, one killer will “kill” other members of the Guild. Whoever can guess who the killer is before getting killed themselves wins.
The staff knows about the game, but since it’s usually pretty harmless they let it continue as long as it doesn’t get too out-of-hand or disruptive. This year’s game begins just like any other and Cate is very excited to finally be included. Soon, however, the game starts to take a sinister turn and the Guild will need to figure out if someone’s taking their role as killer a little too seriously or if somebody else has decided to join without an invitation.
This book was originally published in the UK under the title Killer Game. I think I like The Assassin Game as a title better, so I’m glad they changed it. This book is very atmospheric. The boarding school is on an island near Wales and there’s a lot of storming and rain and they’re cut off from the public most of the time because the causeway connecting them to the mainland floods making it impossible to drive over.
The weather and the isolation factor really help this book to seem kind of creepy right from the start. In addition to that, some of these characters seem off right away too. Like, the reader’s just not sure who to trust. Even though Cate trusts certain characters I just found myself going, “I don’t know about this person…”.
Overall, this book had the same feeling to me of the Blue is for Nightmares series by Laurie Faria Stolarz but without any kind of supernatural element. I read the Blue is for Nightmares series a long time ago, but I just remember the overall feeling of dread that was so prevalent throughout the books–I felt that same feeling with this one as well.
Cate as a main character was just okay. She seemed really kind of needy and weak-willed. The overall sense I got from her is that she wanted to fit in really bad and was kind of willing to do whatever she needed to in order to get that approval from her classmates. At the same time, I never got the sense that she was actually as unpopular as she kept claiming to be.
This book might have been more interesting or compelling from another character’s point of view which maybe, as an author, isn’t what you’d want people to think. The secondary characters were okay. I liked that there was a pretty wide variety in personalities, but none of the other characters really had much depth.
I kept getting the other girls in the Guild confused with each other. Also there was this character Roger? Maybe he was introduced at the beginning, but then somewhere near the 2/3 mark of the book he’s mentioned again and I just thought, “I don’t remember him. I’ll have to pay more attention to remember who he is” but then he’s literally never mentioned again.
Vaughan as a character really kind of creeped me out for a large portion of the book. He just seemed…off and too eager. I felt like something was wrong with him maybe. Towards the end of the book Cate kind of snaps too and gets super weird and hysterical almost–that was less enjoyable to read.
Overall, I thought this book was actually pretty good. It wasn’t everything that I hoped it would be, but I also thought it could have been a lot worse. I liked that it made me feel unsettled and I honestly didn’t see the ending coming though I do wish the ending had been a little different. I feel like the reader really didn’t have enough information to predict how the book would end. I wish the author had given more hints throughout. Anyway, if you’re looking for a nice soft horror book, this could be for you. It’s kind of thriller-esque with just a hint of horror (nothing that would keep me awake at night). Especially if you like reading Laurie Faria Stolarz I’d recommend this one.
Overall Rating: 4
Smoking/Drinking: Mild (a couple of secondary characters smoke)
Sexual Content: Moderate
Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can find The Assassin Game here.
Book review contributed by What’s She Reading? This blog’s reviews come with information about content warning, such as violence, language, sexual content, etc. Want to know if the book is part of a series before you start? She will let you know!