This book is pitched as Assassin’s Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Despite me not loving the Fantastic Beasts movie–I didn’t even finish it!–the description enthralled me. I read the full summary and was hooked.

The book is told in first person and alternates between Leena and Noc’s POVs. Leena is a Charmer, a person who is able to summon beasts. Basically, she connects with or “tames” them, and takes them to her beastiary, which is a magical world where all the beasts can live happily. She’s able to summon them back to her world, where they will do whatever she asks–protect, maim, kill etc. This makes for some pretty awesome fights.

Leena started out as a kickbutt character. As the book went on, she became a little too caught up in her feelings for Noc, but that didn’t make me put the book down. I devoured it in a few days, and am anxiously waiting for the next one.

Noc was intriguing. He’s the head Assassin of Cruor, a group of undead assassins. Fortunately, not zombie undead. Because I hate zombies. They’re more shadow-y undead. In fact, they can travel through shadows and hide in them. A super cool skill. Noc has a past that the author hints at from time to time. I’m pretty sure I know who he’ll turn out to be, but I’m looking forward to reading about it. I’m also looking forward to learning how he’s going to get out of his obligation to kill Leena.

The side characters were fun. Noc’s little gang of assassins reminded of Beta Team from Amanda Bouchet’s A Promise of Fire. They all have their own personalities, their own quirks, their own way of relating to Leena. I care about them. Always a good thing.

Overall, I think it’s the worldbuilding, Noc’s past, and the obligation to kill Leena that has me looking forward to the next book.

This is an entertaining fantasy romance, a genre which I’ve been wanting to see more of. If you like Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Trilogy, you’ll love Kingdom of Exiles.