The assassin story that lesbian fiction didn’t know it needed.

Requiem for Immortals is a difficult book to talk about because I want to tell everyone to just read it. Don’t read anything about it, stop everything, just buy this book, take it in, then sit and marvel at it. But this is a book review and I suppose that won’t do.

Natalya Tsvetnenko is a professional cellist at the top of her game. Regularly requested to fill in by symphonies around the world, she’s poised, beautiful and cold, only moved by her music. What the world doesn’t know, however, is that she’s also Requiem, an Australian assassin who’s regularly hired by all four of Victoria’s rival crime families to mete out poetic punishments for those who cross the line.

Used to taking contracts to kill the worst of the worst, like a crime boss who trades in underage girls, Requiem doesn’t understand why someone has offered her an exorbitant amount to kill Alison Ryan, an administrative assistant at a local police department. It’s only when she bumps into Ryan at an elite musical engagement that she starts to understand that there may be more to the meek woman than meets the eye.

The writing in Requiem for Immortals is gorgeous, somehow managing to be both crisp and luxurious, perfect in conveying the story and all necessary information and informing the tone so that I found my emotions shifting from scene to scene. The plotting is incredible and left me constantly surprised, and the pacing is so tight that it was almost impossible to put down. The character work is divine and is perhaps the strongest element of all with both Natalya and Alison being masterfully drawn, and having arcs that are strong, believable and relatable. I won’t go into anything about the characters themselves because the less you know, the better, but I loved both of them and I was happy with where they were by the end.

Requiem for Immortals is a thriller and not a romance novel at all, and thank goodness for that. There’s a common idea that all lesbian genre fiction must be romance, and if it’s not, there at least must be a strong romantic thread running through. This book defies that standard and is part of a necessary shift in lesfic to offer more to readers. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance. But if I want to read something from a different genre, it’s a relief to not have to leave lesfic to find it, and Requiem for Immortals perfectly scratches that itch.

Anyone who’s talked lesbian fiction with me for more than five minutes knows how much I loved Lee Winter’s debut novel, The Red Files. The story was fun, the dialogue sparkling and specifically attuned to my tastes, and it had one of the best romances I’d read all year even if it’s not a romance novel (yes, fine, I thought it was a romance at first reading even though it’s not—mistakes were made, see the last paragraph for why I’d even think that). When I heard Lee Winter had a new book coming out this summer I hoped with all my heart that it was a sequel to The Red Files. Not only is Requiem for Immortals, not a sequel, but I’m so glad for it because it’s a perfect book, even better than The Red Files. 

Buy Requiem for Immortals. Buy it now, read it, and tell everyone else to read it. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anything quite like it elsewhere This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and possibly one of the best books I’ve read in the last decade.