One of my reading resolutions to myself this year is to read any PJ Fox book that I haven’t read yet. As you may recall, the first book I read of Fox’s, The Demon of Darkling Reach, became Segnalibro’s first ever Book of the Year in 2015. I was floored by its brilliance, and The Black Prince tetralogy (of which The Demon of Darkling Reach is the first book in the series), is definitely on my list of the best series of books I’ve ever read. My next PJ Fox book was The Assassin.
The Assassin follows the fortunes of Ceres, an assassin who has visited the strange, slum strewn land of Dharavi to kill a rogue “brother” from his organisation. Ceres is good at his job but does not bargain for tenacious, child-like but beautiful Udit, who introduced herself to Ceres at an inopertune moment , leaving him astonished and bewildered at the interruption of his job.
Despite being a fairly short book, the narrative had a bit of a slow build up to give readers a real sense of Ceres’ surroundings and of Ceres himself. Beautifully written by Fox, as I knew it would be, she builds up a picture of Dharkun and of Ceres, strangely conjuring up a vague image in my mind of Clint Eastwood strutting into town to slay the bad guy! (Pretty sure this is my vivid imagination playing tricks on me, though!)
Ceres is your consummate quiet, brooding, cold-blooded killer. He does his research and savours the kill. Udit deliciously throws him off balance with her strength of character juxtaposed against her tiny build. Ceres never loses control but Udit definitely wavers his composure as she throws into question his philosophy of life and love.
Fox seems to be giving somewhat of a social critique too. Trust is a rare commodity in Dharkun, and it is a dangerous place to be. This slum town is dirty and dank, it has tyrants at every turn, yet there is a loyalty there of each other, to a large extent. Strangers are noticed and there are dangers lurking around every corner, but the people who live there know where to avoid, for the most part. There seems to be an acceptance that the bad people will do bad things and nothing can be done about it. Fox also challenges the dynamic of how certain stereotypes are perceived by mirroring Ceres level of honour and responsibility to his brotherhood and to Udit against that of Udit’s father, a cleric who tries to appear righteous but in reality, has his own agenda.
The Assassin is essentially a love story. There are some not so pretty scenes but there are some really tender scenes too. However, the one constant is Fox’s beautifully sculptured narrative. I could wax lyrical about PJ Fox’s writing skills all day. She is definitely one of my favourite writers and while this was not my favourite of Fox’s books, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Her ability to create a scene so perfectly to envelope her multi-faceted characters into is nothing short of remarkable. I am currently reading her latest Wattpad novel Prince of Darkness,the follow-up to her first Wattpad novel Book of Shadows and again, they are beautifully constructed literary works of art. If you haven’t read these yet, you really should. As for The Assassin, it truly is a fantastic novel and I would definitely recommend it.