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Allies & Assassins    by Justin Somper Amazon.com order for
Allies & Assassins
by Justin Somper
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Fantasy and mystery are two genres that don't often mix and I do not know why. Luckily, Justin Somper has rectified that at least in YA with Allies & Assassins, the first book in the series of the same name. This fantasy reads so much like a prime time crime drama that it is hard to remember that it is aimed at a YA audience.

Following the sudden death of his older brother, Jared finds himself the new Prince of Archenfield. Archenfield is a peaceful place with good alliances on its borders ... or so it seems on the surface. Jared finds himself plunged into the dirty world of politics that lies beneath the surface, complete with intrigue, power plays, and murder. Yes, everyone knows that Prince Anders was murdered, but no one knows who the murderer is or what lengths they are prepared to go through to remain uncaught. Jared, though, is determined to see justice done, and finds a willing accomplice in Asta, the physician's neice and apprentice. Together, they must track a killer while saving the whole of Archenfield.

So many elements combine to make Allies & Assassins a wonderful read. First, Somper does an excellent job of world-building, creating a land that is believable, yet not a carbon copy of the real world. Second, he weaves a tight mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the end with a denouement that shocks, even though the clues were there all along. And finally, Somper created characters that are incredibly fleshed-out and likeable protagonists. Jared may be the main character, but Asta pretty well sold this novel for me.

If you like fantasy and mystery, Allies & Assassins is a must read. I cannot wait to see how Justin Somper continues the tale of Archenfield's plight.

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