Caitlyn Sinclair hides her magical need for souls behind her job as an assassin in the Miscreants Guild—the home of spies, thieves and assassins. She is a SoulEater, a mage who uses the aural energy of other people to fuel her spells. She has no choice but to take those lives, because without the infusion of life-force she will die. She's made a home for herself in the city of Ellemarlene, until the day she executes her Guild Master and is cast out. Her only chance at survival is to join the Mage Guild and embrace her magical nature. To become a terrible weapon, someone with the power to wipeout entire towns.
Book review by Melissa Snark:
Author Beth Caudill engages in excellent fantasy world-building in her novella, ASSASSIN'S SOUL. Her story features a rich medieval culture and an interesting variety of races and classes living in the city of Ellemarlene, which is ruled by a council of seven representing the seven guilds. I periodically play RPGs and this story made me feel like I'd walked straight onto the set of a Dragon Age campaign. (A good thing since Dragon Age is amazing.)
The writing is solid with good editing and the dialogue sounded natural. Some awkward wording in places that gave me pause–I don't like instances of "you" used in third person perspective. Also, I can't entirely sure the prologue was necessary as it is primarily back story. However, it did serve as a nice vehicle for introducing the primary characters and their relationship. Secondary characters were distinct and well developed. For some reason, I latched onto a relatively minor character, Nathan Deering, a Master Thief, hoping he'd become the primary romantic interest.
Caitlyn is a fun, hot-headed character. Female assassins aren't common and the fact that she retained a moral code about who she killed made it possible for the reader to remain sympathetic. She is also a psychic vampire, always an interesting concept who must feed periodically by taking a life. The author develops the concept in a unique way to make it compatible with her magical system.
The heroine's psychic vampirism serves as the basis of internal conflict and drives all of her choices. It is not a matter of choosing to kill or not, but rather determining who to kill so that she doesn't take an innocent life. The politics of Ellemarlene provide the external conflict, starting with a corrupt guild leader and building toward an attempted coupé by another guild.
ASSASSIN'S SOUL is an exciting retelling of the heroic journey. For fans of fantasy adventure with a romantic twist, this offering from Beth Caudill is sure to please.
Although Beth grew up in West Virginia, she currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and two sons. Blending the analytical and creative sides of her brain, she delights in creating fantasy worlds for others. Catch her online most days except when NCIS and Once Upon a Time air.