The Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason
★★★★☆ | 2018 release
This was such a good take on Twelfth Night I was found dead.
I shall start this review off with a slight bit of criticism: the plot of this book is, admittedly, very convoluted. The plot feels at time repetitious due to the lack of narrative weight presented by certain plot points.
However, the book is almost entirely redeemed by its characters: Katherine and Toby are written with so much heart. I loved how Katherine’s character’s inner turmoil and conflict was written and conveyed by the narrative. I also adored how Toby’s grief was subtly conveyed through the narrative.
Oh, and I loved how this played with Shakespeare. There’s a tidbit here about the original story of Twelfth Night involving Viola killing Orsino under dubious circumstances. The play evolves as the story does, which I thought was so incredibly meta and interesting.
Okay. Okay so I want to talk about gender for a second. One of the characters in this book, as in Twelfth Night, spends the entire book dressed as a boy, and the two fall in love
When Toby of course eventually finds this out, he feels deeply betrayed not primarily because of the lie — but because he has let her know that he is bisexual, in a time where that is quite literally illegal. At one point, I wrote an essay about Twelfth Night discussing how it holds gender as primarily performance:
Viola’s transformation of gender allows her to take on a freer ‘role’ in the world, a role which at once suits her and forces her to hide. Yet Orsino wants her as both a maid and a man — in other words, he loves her for who she is.
I think this book leans quite far into this exact same idea in a very good way, albeit a far more canonical way.
✨Arc received from the publisher for an honest review. [ releases: November 2018.]