I received a copy of this book for an honest review from the publisher Curiosity Quills Press through NetGalley.
Set in an alternate world where magic, once predominant, is now on the decline , The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is an intriguing and eclectic mix of magic and mystery with a hint of steampunk.
The main protaganist, Christopher Buckley is a 19 year old orphan whose parents have been dead for 6 years . They, along with hundreds more, met their demise in the Floating City incident where spiritbinding backkfired, resulting in a catastrophe. He as the older sibling is faced with the responsibilty of taking care of his 13 year old sister Rosemary on an ever dwindling budget.
Rosemary has this increasingly rare, valued and sought after ability called spiritbinding and this in a society where people are ‘categorised’ based on their magical abilities and mythical creatures are forced into servitude with the help of these spiritbinders . Cognizant of the dangers involved in her being discovered at such a tender age, Christopher tries to prevent her from using her abilities in such a way as to cause discovery., which was becoming increasingly difficult since she is a headstrong girl.
Christopher is very much concerned with his societal standing and wants to hold on to his family’s estate . He goes about solliciting for a job and the only job he is granted an interview for is that of a Deathsniffers’s Apprentice. He is interviewed and gets the job.
A Deathsniffer investigates murders with her powers for sniffing out truth and is thus involved in the grimier seedier parts of society. This is of major concern to Christopher since he is afraid of being ostracized but the pay is very good and since he is only a wordweaver who is able to take notes by thinking them, he is only fit for clerical work. Unfortunately his employer Olivia Faraday, rubs him the wrong way. She is the very opposite of him. She doesn’t care about societal rules and conventions and is brusque and direct in her dealings with others.
After only a few days of taking up his position of deathsniffer’s apprentice, he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery which is more than what it seems.
- Christopher’s character felt a bit overshadowed by Olivia Faraday. This is because of her iron-clad will and propensity to be direct to the point of being considered rude and unconventional. I connected with her because I saw a bit of myself in her.
- The magical system was very well crafted and original. There are various mythical creatures as well as magically gifted human with varying abilities. The creatures’ abilities are used to power machinery, lights, and even transports.
- The murder mystery and its solving was also very well thought out and executed. The whole process from discovery to investigation and finally uncovering the murderer’s identity kept me guessing which is necessary in a good mystery.
- I liked that there was another conspiracy taking place in the background, having to do with different factions within the society. There are questions about the Floating City incident; was it an accident? There is also the failing of the categorisation process which all adds to the intrigue and overal mystery of the book and creates an opening for future sequels.
I would recommend it to lovers of fantasy and mystery and fans of Sherlock Holmes.