REVIEW: Requiem for Immortals
Author: Lee Winters
Publication: Ylva Publishing on Aug 3rd, 2016
Paperback/eBook, 284 pages
This next review is a little different. Here at Overdue Books, I try to occasionally highlight books that might be a little off your radar. Maybe they’re self-published, maybe they’re outside of your usual genres, or maybe they’re from small or local publishers. While I thoroughly enjoy “mainstream” books and bestsellers, I think it is just as important to read books outside of that circuit, such as publishers that focus in LBGT+ books: Bold Strokes Books, Bella Books, Riptide, and Harmony Ink. There are some hidden gems out there and I’d like to spread the word. Today’s book is from an independent publisher that specializes in lesbian fiction, Ylva Publishing.
Requiem for Immortals was the first lesbian thriller that I have read. I adore reading thrillers and I am always on the hunt for great lesfic, so Lee Winters’ book seemed like a perfect fit. (Side note: I’m so happy that LGBT+ fiction is becoming so much more prevalent. It used to be hard enough to find les-fic at all, let alone good les-fic, and now there are so many more to choose from! And all the sapphic women rejoiced.)
A lot of LGBT+ book covers look like a high school graphic design projects, and not in a good way. I picked up the eBook version, but this is a book that I would definitely be okay with showing off in public. The cover made great use of visuals with a striking font and it didn’t look either self-published or cheesy.
Natalya Tsvetnenko is an exacting and talented professional cellist, but she has a secret identity as Requiem, a highly sought-after assassin. She is at the top of her game, both as a cellist and hit-woman. She excels at ridding the seedy Australian underworld of its major players. That is, until she is hired to take out someone who doesn’t fit any of those categories: a quiet, seemingly normal “little mouse” of a woman, Allison, that Natalya/Requiem can’t figure out. What’s so special about this boring woman that she needs removing? And really, why does Requiem even care?
Requiem for Immortals was a well-written novel with a fast paced and intriguing plot. Unfortunately, for me the story had a few fatal flaws (pun was intended, you can laugh). One of the things I loved most about Requiem for Immortals was how the author incorporated music into this novel. I felt connected to Natalya through her emotional ties to music. Winters seemed familiar with classical music and I loved her realistic portrayal of Natalya as a musician. She altogether captured the parties, the orchestral dynamics, and the hours devoted to regimented practice. The way that Natalya used the same discipline and exactitude to sharpen and hone her skills as assassin, as well as a musician, was compelling. (Again, the pun is intended. Please laugh.).
One of the problems I had with the book was that the main character was simply just too over the top. Natalya was a little too beautiful, too talented, too perfect, and quite frankly a little too much of a psychopath. I’ll buy that being both an assassin and a world-class musician meant that she needed to be brilliant, but because she was so adept and perfect I lost touch with the sense that I was reading about a flawed human. That being said, I didn’t think that Natalya’s character was completely unbelievable. The frequent power plays Natalya exhibited were essential to her character. They didn’t add to the likability of the character, but they were one of the reasons I was so drawn in by the book. I liked that I didn’t like her, and that she really was a stone-cold killer. I just wish she would have been a bit more human.
While Winters borrowed heavily from the common trope of assassin falling for their target, she added enough of a twist that the story was both refreshing and honest. I was pleased that Winters didn’t write the relationship between Natalya and Allison as yet another “my loins are afire” or insta-lust cliche. Instead, Natalya was continually surprised by Allison, which is what intrigued her. Allison was intelligent, quiet, and contradictory. Every time Natalya thought she had figured out Allison, she was taken aback and needed to rethink her strategy. I do think I would have liked the story a bit more if it was a less of a romance and more of a thriller. As it was it was a semi-weak romance and mediocre thriller.
The biggest frustration I had with Requiem for Immortals was that the point of view shifted midway through the book. It was both annoying and unnecessary. The pace of the writing, and development of both the story and the characters really died down during the second half. I found myself skimming through the last third of the novel, and unfortunately that considerably lessened my enjoyment compared to the first half.
Overall, I thought that Lee Winters wrote a provocative and captivating lesbian thriller.
Recommended for: I would recommended Requiem for Immortals to those readers who want a f/f novel that is neither sappy nor over the top with angst-driven protagonists. If you like a little bit of murder in your les-fic or are looking for an ass-kicking assassin, this is a great place to start.