Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 7 hours, 45 minutes
Welsh water horse Nevan Quirke never expected he’d be in a coffee shop meeting up with an assassin. But after an evil mage kidnapped his sister, Nevan doesn’t see any other choice but to do what the man commands to get her back. Especially since part of the magical bargain to get Lulu back has left Nevan unable to shift, eat, drink, or tell anyone about the mage’s plot or he will end up in the man’s service forever. Nevan is told how to recognize the assassin, but he can’t help but surprised when he meets the would-be killer.
Seb Ardelean is a nanny who is in between jobs. He’s at the coffee shop to meet a potential employer when a giant of a man approaches and insists he is the person Seb is there to meet. When the guy drags Seb to a carnival, however, he starts to be concerned, and when the man wants Seb to kill someone, he knows something is seriously wrong. The men realize they have both mistaken the identity of the other, but Seb can also tell that Nevan is in big trouble. Nevan may be magically prevented from sharing the whole story with Seb, but Seb is able to piece enough together to know he has to help. Not only is Nevan clearly suffering from extreme hunger and thirst, but two children are in serious peril. Seb would not be the man he is if he didn’t want to help.
As the men try to find a way to rescue Lulu and stop the mage, they find themselves in increasing danger. Fortunately, they also learn that they have more allies than they realize. Along the way, Nevan and Seb begin to find a strong connection with one another. But they will have to rescue Lulu, stop a murder, and break Nevan free of a dark mage’s control before they can have a chance to be together.
Assassin by Accident by E.J. Russell is a fun story that brings together Russell’s Mythmatched Universe with the multi-author Carnival of Mysteries series. The Carnival of Mysteries is a set of standalone stories that all feature a magical carnival that moves and changes forms in the various books. In this story, the carnival is a significant setting, but you can definitely read this book without having read others from the collection as the books otherwise don’t connect. Assassin does have tie ins with some of the other books in Russell’s larger Mythmatched world, and we do have characters from various books who appear here (including Jordan and some of the other Quest Investigations folks). I think fans of Russell’s larger world will enjoy the various cameos from other characters, but this story should work as a standalone for new readers.
This one has a fun set up with the dual cases of mistaken identity. Even as it is clear that these guys are confused about who they are meeting, it is still entertaining watching it all unfold. I felt immediate sympathy with Nevan, who was so upset at his sister’s kidnapping that he has fallen into a seriously bad bargain with the mage that might kill him before he even finishes his task. Nevan has no desire to see another child hurt, but he also is desperate to save his sister. He is also starving and parched and barely hanging on. Seb may be a human suddenly thrust into a new world, but he is smart, strong-willed, and determined to protect Nevan, Lulu, and the potential murder victim. This is a fun grumpy/sunshine pair, with Nevan as a loner who is all gruff strength and Seb endlessly cheery and unflappable. It takes the guys a while to figure out how to work within the twisty confines of the bargain Nevan has made with the mage, but Seb never even considers not sticking by Nevan’s side. The plot builds well with lots of adventure, excitement, and suspense. As always with this world, there are a variety of supernatural beings we meet along the way, including some familiar faces.
Greg Boudreaux is once again the narrator for this story and he has definitely become the strong voice of this universe for me. At this point, there are a lot of characters who come in and out of the various books and Boudreaux does such a great job with consistency. I can recognize characters by their voices by now, even if they just have small roles. I also am impressed by the various accents, as well as how Boudreaux handles the many Welsh words (Nevan is a Welsh water horse shifter). These books have a playful side to them and I think the narration captures that well. I am eager to reach for the audio whenever there is a new installment in this Mythmatched world.
This book gives us a really interesting ending that I think sets up the universe world building for some new and exciting opportunities. I love the direction it is moving and am very eager to see how it all plays out.