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Hit The Mark

Rati Mehrotra’s Markswoman is genre-spanning novel that features a sisterhood of trained assassins, blades formed of semi-sentient metal, and one woman’s quest to right wrongs.

Hit The Mark

BOOK REPORT for Markswoman (Asiana #1) by Rati Mehrotra

Cover Story: Pretty Deadly
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Futuristic Science Fantasy
Bonus Factor: Force Ghosts
Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger
Relationship Status: Ready for a Second Date

Trigger Warning: There is a scene of self harm and a few instances of abuse in Markswoman that might be triggering for some readers.

Cover Story: Pretty Deadly

When I think about what a “markswoman” is, my mind first goes to a bow and arrow, so I like that the cover artist included a dagger on this cover to make it clear that the kind of markswoman in this novel isn’t what you might expect. I also like that this cover says, “this is a fantasy book,” while the story within actually leans heavily on science fiction. There’s a lot of subversion here, and I’m not certain whether that’s good or bad.

The Deal:

Kyra Veer is the last of her clan and a member of the dwindling Order of Kali, a sisterhood sworn with protecting the people of Asiana. Through years of training in both physical combat and mental acuity, Kyra has become a Markswoman, but her vows to the Order are at war with her wish to avenge her family’s murderers. The struggle grows even greater when Shirin Mam, the head of the Order, dies, and Kyra’s least favorite teacher, Tamsyn, takes control.

Kyra finds herself on the run, with only strangers to help her prepare to eventually face Tamsyn and set the Order back on its proper path.

BFF Charm: Yay

Although she can be very single-minded, stubborn, rash and impulsive, Kyra’s also loyal, kind, and is a total badass with a blade. She’s the kind of person who doesn’t make friends easily, but is a very good one once you get past her outer defenses. She cares, deeply, about what’s right and wrong, and is willing to listen to her gut, even when it means putting herself in danger. I don’t know that I’d be able to hang, considering my very sedentary and non-dangerous lifestyle, but if we were friends, she’d inspire me to try!

Though, to be her friend, I’d likely have to be a member of the Order of Kali, and I don’t think I’d be very good at the whole killing people part of membership.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

One of Kyra’s vows to the Order of Kali is chastity, but that doesn’t mean she can’t look. And it certainly doesn’t mean that her heart won’t eventually want something more than just looking.

Talky Talk: Futuristic Science Fantasy

Markswoman is one of those novels that seems to be set outside of time. Technology is nearly nonexistent, medicine is mostly herbal remedies, and the people of Asiana live in clans and tribes. But Mehrotra also references a great war that caused the decimation of society, and the blades the Markswomen use are of a technology given to people of the past by the Ones—who might have been aliens. The Markswomen also use Transport Hubs to travel great distances in the blink of an eye; Hubs that are only accessible using their blades. The Kali in the Order of Kali is the Hindu goddess, and looking at the map in the front of the book, it seems like Asiana might be the Asian continent, altered by time and tools of war.

I don’t know that we’ll ever fully understand what happened to Earth in the universe of the book, but I applaud Mehrotra’s ability to meld disparate themes of fantasy, science fiction, mythology and dystopia into a cohesive whole.

Bonus Factor: Force Ghosts

When Shirin Mam dies, Kyra is left bereft. But Markswomen have a connection to the world (through their blades) that goes beyond the mortal realm. And like Obi Wan and Yoda visit Luke Skywalker when he needs them most, Kyra gets advice from Shirin Mam even after her funeral pyre has turned to ash.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger

It’s a good thing I knew going into Markswoman that this was the first in a series, because I would have been steamed had I gotten to the last sentence and not known there was more to come.

Relationship Status: Ready for a Second Date

You had me at “sisterhood of trained assassins who have mental connections to their blades,” Book, and kept me with your great characters and intriguing world building. I’m really looking forward to the next time we can hang out.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager, and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Markswoman will be available January 23.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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