I had such fun listening to Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer. Narrated by Em Eldridge, we follow Evie Sage, who takes a job as the local villain’s assistant. The tale that ensues brought laughter, suspense and swoons. Come see what I loved about this cozy, romantic fantasy.
Narration: 4 cups Speed: 1.5x
Once Upon a Time meets The Office in Hannah Maehrer’s laugh-out-loud viral TikTok series turned novel, about the sunshine assistant to an Evil Villain…and their unexpected romance.
ASSISTANT WANTED: Notorious, high-ranking villain seeks loyal, levelheaded assistant for unspecified office duties, supporting staff for random mayhem, terror, and other Dark Things In General. Discretion a must. Excellent benefits.
With ailing family to support, Evie Sage's employment status isn't just important, it's vital. So when a mishap with Rennedawn’s most infamous Villain results in a job offer—naturally, she says yes. No job is perfect, of course, but even less so when you develop a teeny crush on your terrifying, temperamental, and undeniably hot boss. Don’t find evil so attractive, Evie.
But just when she’s getting used to severed heads suspended from the ceiling and the odd squish of an errant eyeball beneath her heel, Evie suspects this dungeon has a huge rat…and not just the literal kind. Because something rotten is growing in the kingdom of Rennedawn, and someone wants to take the Villain—and his entire nefarious empire—out.
Now Evie must not only resist drooling over her boss but also figure out exactly who is sabotaging his work…and ensure he makes them pay.
After all, a good job is hard to find.
This was fun with a grumpy/sunshine romance. The story had a cozy, quirky mystery vibe to it that pulled me in. The book’s taglines state “Once Upon a Time meets The Office“, and I’d say that is accurate.
I learned this was at one point some kind of TikTok series. I had never heard of it until after listening when I researched about a second novel as the ending left me wanting. It looks like it will be a trilogy. It was a part of a three-book deal. The publishers categorized this as adult romantic fantasy, but it read more like a young adult cozy. The story delivered a very slow-tension building romance, and the protagonist felt young.
The overall story premise and mystery thread held my attention, but weren’t without flaws. The story is heavy with dialogue, mostly between Evie and the Villain. Someone is out to get the Villain and Evie sets out to stop them. There was danger, tension, and plenty of twists and turns.
The meet scene and Evie’s subsequent acceptance of a job as his assistant set the tone. I adored Evie, who desperately wants to help her family and, despite the events in the forest, accepts the position. She is optimistic despite her circumstances and can also be ditzy. The villain is grumpy, demanding and mysterious. Evie knows he is evil, but develops a crush. He, in turn, develops a soft spot for her.
Most of the story takes place in the office at Massacre Manor with hanging head and rolling eyeballs. And yet all the employees walk around and work like it’s a standard office building in New York. The office is almost a character itself. Secondary characters and companion animals round out the story.
Em Eldridge narrates and gave unique voices to the characters. She captured Evie’s personality and helped set the tone. I am exciting to listen to the next one.
The story pulled me in, but the pacing was slightly off and began slowly. It really picked up at the fifty percent mark. Overall, I enjoyed the tale and look forward to the next book. I recommend it for folks who enjoy cozy mysteries, and slow burning character driven romances.
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