Book Review: Requiem for Immortals, by Lee Winter
by Silas | 4/15/2020
Never thought I’d be rooting for a ruthless assassin who artfully kills her targets, yet, Requiem for Immortals had me doing just that.
Professional cellist Natalya Tsvetnenko moves seamlessly among the elite where she fills the souls of symphony patrons with beauty even as she takes the lives of the corrupt of Australia’s ruthless underworld. The cold, exacting assassin is hired to kill a woman who seems so innocent that Natalya can’t understand why anyone would want her dead. As she gets to know her target, she can’t work out why she even cares. Winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award (2017) for Mystery/Thriller and Lambda finalist.
Natayla is a world-renowned cellist who lives and breathes music. Except, well, for her side-gig as a brutal, highly sought after assassin. Her precision and elegance for her classical music is extended to the various targets she’s given by her associate; none of which she’s ever missed. Until now.
Natayla is an incredible character, full of depth, countless flaws, and a realistic arc but, I’ll be honest: I had trouble connecting with her as a main character for the better part of the first half of this book. I whole-heartedly believe this is due to my own tender soul (envision a shivering kitten with a dollop of snow on their head—okay, yeah, that’s me). She’s a vicious, cold, precise killer, sees compassion as a weakness, and has more affection for her extremely venomous cone snail than any people in her life, save her elderly ex-military strategist father.
The first real interaction Natalya has with someone—who happens to be a fellow assassin—is harsh (okay, harsh is putting it lightly) and almost had me put the book down. I’m glad I kept going because she does redeem herself but there is a strong essence of power-play between her and the other characters, including the love interest, that I, at times, had trouble reading. It’s more of a not-my-cup-of-tea rather than a reflection of the story itself.
I won’t go too much into detail regarding her target to prevent any spoilers but I enjoyed the love interest’s starkly contrasted personality as the beautiful, empathetic woman that Natayla couldn’t draw away her mind from, as if this innocence and kindness was a unicorn Natayla hadn’t imagined to exist in the world she knew: a woman who cries at sappy ads, old people falling in love and her niece’s birthday cards, who believes in justice and doing the right thing.
Unlike other ice-queen lead stories I’ve read, this one held true to Natayla’s character. There was no instalove or instachange for her. Her arc was believable, although I feel I was left out a bit of it due to a point-of-view switch later in the book during what I felt was a pivotal moment.
When I finished this book, it left me empty, like I was standing in a darkened theater long after the orchestra left, leaving only the residual music hanging stagnantly in the air. My own fault for going into this expecting a strong romantic subplot but being disappointed. I’ve read two others by Winter that absolutely enthralled me (The Red Files and Breaking Character) so I went into this book with expectations I shouldn’t have. Many people loved this book and I can understand why—Winter is a fantastic writer and weaves incredible stories—but this one falls into the not-quite-for-me category though a good book nonetheless. The twists and thriller aspects of the story were enjoyable.
3 out of 5 Rainbows
Recommended Reader: Anyone looking for a thriller with a strong lead, twists, and vicious assassins.
Content Warnings: Although there are no content warnings offered, I’d like to add some: death, murder, past assault mentioned, mental/physical/emotional abuse from a parental figure. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong with any of these.