Series: W.A.R.P. #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 7th 2013
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Riley, a teen orphan boy living in Victorian London, has had the misfortune of being apprenticed to Albert Garrick, an illusionist who has fallen on difficult times and now uses his unique conjuring skills to gain access to victims' dwellings. On one such escapade, Garrick brings his reluctant apprentice along and urges him to commit his first killing. Riley is saved from having to commit the grisly act when the intended victim turns out to be a scientist from the future, part of the FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (WARP) Riley is unwittingly transported via wormhole to modern day London, followed closely by Garrick.
In modern London, Riley is helped by Chevron Savano, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent sent to London as punishment after a disastrous undercover, anti-terrorist operation in Los Angeles. Together Riley and Chevie must evade Garrick, who has been fundamentally altered by his trip through the wormhole. Garrick is now not only evil, but he also possesses all of the scientist's knowledge. He is determined to track Riley down and use the timekey in Chevie's possession to make his way back to Victorian London where he can literally change the world.
After Artemis Fowl ended, I was sad so when I heard The Reluctant Assassin was the start of a new series by Colfer, I was eager to jump right in. I had this one from netgalley, but ended up finding an audiobook version at the library one day. I'm certainly glad I did because the audio was so well done I found myself finding excuses to keep cleaning, working out or even driving.
The beginning of the book opens with the explanation of Chevron's part in the FBI, being a 17 year old girl she is not considered a full agent but was trained as one. Unfortunately, they send her off on a job to watch an object – a pot to be precise and tell her to report if anything comes out. Chevy finds it to be a humiliating job until something, or rather someone comes out. A boy who happens to have a knife and is standing over the dead body of a man. Riley is the boy and was unsure of what happened, because just moments ago he was with Garrick, the scary man who took him from his home and is training him to be an assassin. Only he's not from this time, he's just traveled from Britain – 110 years ago.
What ensues is a pursuit by Garrick, who is attached to boy and wants him back, willing to kill to get him back. So basically they end up in the current age for a time and then end up jumping back. All the while they must try not to be captured or killed by Garrick while figuring out exactly what is happening. I think it is a start to a great new series as there is a lot of action, but it on the gorier side, so maybe a solid middle grade read instead of dipping down into the intermediate grades. I love a fairly solid bad guy and one that is more unusual so Garrick definitely fit the bill for me. I loved the mix of time travel and love the Victorian era, so it was a perfect mix of historical and fantasy all in one. All that being said, The Reluctant Assassin wasn't without faults. I felt like sometimes the plot got a little more confusing as it moved quite quickly and the time travel caused some complications that I felt were a bit off. In middle grade fiction, I usually like the simplicity but maybe it will iron out itself with the next book.
Final Verdict: There were some fantastical side characters and I loved the pace of the plot. A series that will be popular with readers who are looking for a mix of suspense and fantasy.