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The Assassin Game

The Assassin Game

3.4 5
by Kirsty McKay

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T.A.G. You're It...

"It is 4 a.m. when they come for me. I am already awake, strung out on the fear that they will come, and fear that they won't. When I finally hear the click of the latch on the dormitory door, I have only a second to brace myself before-"

At Cate's isolated boarding school Killer is more than a game-it's an elite secret society. Members must avoid being "killed" during a series of thrilling pranks-and only the Game Master knows who the "killer" is. When Cate's finally invited to join The Guild of Assassins, she knows it's her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.

But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save The Guild. But can she find the real assassin-before she's the next target?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Umfraville Hall, an exclusive boarding school on the windswept Welsh island of Skola, is an ideal setting for a mystery that takes a few cues from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The Assassins’ Guild, a secret society, is ready to start its annual game of Killer, and the rules are simple: one Killer is chosen, who may “kill” other members using “wacky-but-child-friendly” methods (“Death by gassing with a stink bomb in the common room. Death by ‘suffocation’ with a duct-taped duvet”). Sixteen-year-old Cate, newly initiated into the Guild, can’t wait to play Killer, but when her childhood friend Vaughan insinuates himself into the game, and the “kills” start getting out of hand, what should be harmless fun turns deadly serious. McKay (Undead) pokes a bit of fun at teen angst, using Cate’s wry voice to tell this twisty whodunit. Her narrow viewpoint intensifies the tension as she tries to stay ahead of the Killer, and although readers may guess the culprit before the final revelation, they probably won’t care, since it’s so much fun getting there. Ages 12–up. Agent: Allison Hellegers, Rights People. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"McKay keeps things ambiguous so that readers will continue guessing until the true culprit is revealed in the climactic scene. Her witty, self-deprecating voice captures the thrill of belonging and the complicated emotions that come with new money. Smart, edge-of-the-seat thrills." - Kirkus

"Umfraville Hall, an exclusive boarding school on the windswept Welsh island of Skola, is an ideal setting for a mystery that takes a few cues from Agatha Christie'sAnd Then There Were None... McKay (Undead) pokes a bit of fun at teen angst, using Cate's wry voice to tell this twisty whodunit.
" - Publishers Weekly

"Fans of elusive thrillers like Gail Giles's What Happened to Cass McBride will enjoy this book thoroughly. Lovers of mystery and suspense and those who appreciate a good boarding school story will also engage with this fast-moving and adrenaline-packed novel." - School Library Journal

"McKay's world building is topnotch and the suspense palpable." - Booklist

"Red-herrings abound in this page-turner... The fast-moving plot will motivate readers to sort through the many characters, guess at their motives, and spot the real criminal." - VOYA Magazine

"An exhilarating thriller from start to finish, this action packed book is full of betrayals, mystery and heartbreak. Both the Game and Cate's love life kept us guessing until the end.
" - Justine Magazine

"Perfect for readers looking for a good "scary" novel...THE ASSASSIN GAME has the perfect amount of romance, suspense, and action to make for a wonderful read." - TeenReads

VOYA, August 2016 (Vol. 39, No. 3) - Lucy Schall
Admitted to her school’s exclusive Assassin Guild, Cate cannot wait to participate in the group’s traditional fantasy-kill game and soon becomes a real-life target. She has attended Umfraville Hall on an island off the coast of Wales for three years. She considers herself a student of normal ability who has been admitted to this exceptional school because her parents own the island. Each year, the Assassin Guild carries out a game in which a secret “killer” creatively and secretly eliminates the rest of the members. Traditionally, old members vote in the new, but this year, Cate’s childhood friend, Vaughn, enrolls in the school and crashes a Guild meeting. He negotiates his membership by offering a computer program that protects both individual and group secrecy. Each member adopts an online mystery name, but an extra, hostile name appears. The kills become real. Cate and Vaughn scramble to discover the murderer. Vaughn disappears, and Cate places herself in more danger to find him. Red-herrings abound in this page-turner. Each gifted, thin-skinned, self-centered, selfish Guild member is a suspect. Even Cate’s favorite teacher may be guilty. The fast-moving plot will motivate readers to sort through the many characters, guess at their motives, and spot the real criminal. Vaughn may make this a cross-gender read, but narrator star Cate will draw enough female readers to require more than one library copy. Reviewer: Lucy Schall; Ages 12 to Adult.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Cate's been harvested: chosen to be part of the Assassin's Guild, a secretive elite club at her boarding school. Playing the game involves avoiding being "killed" through a series of ongoing pranks. But what happens when the killing becomes real and the game becomes a nightmare? The book opens in a rush of excitement and suspense. McKay continues the thrills throughout the novel, leaving readers guessing at who may be mixed up in the murderous game. The writing can be choppy at times, with less than believable dialogue between characters, but the pace keeps the plot moving forward even when it falters. Fans of elusive thrillers like Gail Giles's What Happened to Cass McBride will enjoy this book thoroughly. Lovers of mystery and suspense and those who appreciate a good boarding school story will also engage with this fast-moving and adrenaline-packed novel. VERDICT Recommended for public and school libraries looking to expand their YA mystery collections.—Tabitha Nordby, Red River College, Manitoba, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
A girl joins a traditional secret murder game in her snooty boarding school only to find that the game might be more real than anyone had intended.Cate attends the elite private academy located on the Welsh island that her nouveau riche parents have inherited. The white teen's not at the genius level of so many of the other students, but she makes it into the Game anyway. Every year the Assassins' Guild holds a game in which one member secretly becomes the Killer and stages fake murders of the other players. It's all completely secretive and elaborate, and Cate is proud to be in it. But when biracial (part-Jamaican, part-Irish) Vaughan, a childhood friend, shows up as a new student and manages to gain late acceptance into the Guild, Cate begins to worry. Computer-whiz Vaughan sets up an undetectable social network in the school, and someone Cate knows only by the screen name Skulk begins to taunt her. When an actual death occurs in the Game, things become all too real. What is Vaughan really up to, and why has he apparently followed Cate to the school? Through Cate's present-tense narration, McKay keeps things ambiguous so that readers will continue guessing until the true culprit is revealed in the climactic scene. Her witty, self-deprecating voice captures the thrill of belonging and the complicated emotions that come with new money.Smart, edge-of-the-seat thrills. (Thriller. 12-18)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)
HL690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Kirsty is a former actress, and has written children's plays for commercial theatre. In 2008, she won SCBWI's competition to find new writers. She was born in the UK, but now lives in Boston, USA, with her husband and daughter. Visit kirstymckay.com for more.

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The Assassin Game 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
HowUsefulItIs More than 1 year ago
About: The Assassin Game is a fiction novel written by Kirsty McKay. It was published on 8/2/2016 by Sourcebook Fire, 325 pages. The genres are young adult, mystery, thriller, and contemporary. The author has a few other publications which I have yet to read, including the Undead series. My Experience: I started reading The Assassin Game on 8/26/16 and finished it on 9/6/16 at 1:40am. The Assassin Game is also known as Killer game where each person pick out a piece of paper from a bag that will determine if they are the Killer or not. The killer would then have to set out to kill other members without getting caught. The rule of the game is to kill one person at a time and make the kill as public as possible so that many can witness it. In order to be in the game, one has to be chosen. This game takes place every year at a boarding high school called Umfraville, located in an island reserved for the gifted students. The game operate in secret. This book follows the main character Cate and the entire book is only in her point of view. She has always wanted to be part of the game and this year she got chosen. Out of the blue, her childhood friend Vaughan shows up and win his way into the game without having to wait in line like the rest of the players. Cate has some boy troubles and when love comes, it comes quick and out of nowhere. The love part needs improvement. The story weaves around making many players looking like they could be the killer. I couldn't guess who the bad guy is. I don't enjoy Cate's thinking process because she hardly try to figure out who the killer is and more into worrying about herself staying alive in the game. The twist of a second killer could be more interesting if we could get that person's point of view or at least have a more convincing case. Pro: school for the gifted, the game, secret meetings, the thrill to not get caught, Crypt Con: lack of killer strategy, lack of detective work, romance spring up out of nowhere, I rate it 4 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for giving me this eARC for free in an exchanged for an honest review. You can find my review on my blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Edelweiss. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I was super excited at the premise of this book. I love any and all things like a secret society, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Cate is an okay MC. She's a little dramatic and I felt like I couldn't ever settle into her inner monologue or the rhythm of the story. There are a lot of other characters, but no one really stood out as a solid, likable person to root for. The plot was slow and fast at the same time, if that makes sense. There are a lot of things happening, but it still progressed so slowly. It really started to get interesting about 70% in, but by then, I didn't care who the killer was. I could have easily walked away from this book without knowing that info and not been bothered. Overall, there was something that kept me reading, but I'm not sure what it was. I loved the concept, but found the execution lacking. **Huge thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
OKAY. YOU USE THE WORD ASSASSIN AND SUPER ELITE SOCIETY AND I’M LEFT THINKING MURDERRRR. I should definitely warn you, because this was a let-down for me, that there is NO MURDERING IN THIS GAME. So. What was this book about, and what did I not like about it: The Assassin’s Guild is an “elite secret society” at a high school for prodigies, called Uframville and every year, after a reaping and an initiation process, a game called “Killer” begins. You basically pick lots and the person that is the “Killer” needs to FAKE KILL ALL THE MEMBERS. If they figure out who the “Killer” is, they lose and the game is over. I WANTED BLOODSHED, OKAY? Cate is DYING to be a part of this society. She’s not a prodigy and has never felt like she belonged, and the only reason she’s there is because she owns the island. It’s her only chance to be accepted, it’s her only change to feel at home. The Game, however, slowly spirals out of control and more intense at the same time, and nothing is ever that same again. IN ALL HONESTY, the ACTUAL murder thing was my fault, and it only REALLY affected me for a while, until I actually started getting into the “Kills” WHICH WAS REALLY FUN AND INNOVATIVE AND ALL ABOUT GUESSWORK. And about three “kills” into the book, IT JUST STOPPED. Suddenly, there was no game being played but one of who could be a better catfisher and causing people allergic reactions and the LOVE SQUARE. Screw that, it was almost a love pentagon. GOD HELP ME. I can HANDLE two love interests but FOUR? REALLY? And the ending. GOD. I was really kind of disappointed with it. The one thing I really did love about this book was Fletcher because OMG, he was perfect and a little crazy and all around wonderful. All in all, a book that had the POTENTIAL and the HUMOUR and CREATIVITY to be so much more, but it just fell flat. 3 stars.
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
Secret societies is the theme of The Assassin Game, and in this book, the kids of Umbraville, a private boarding school is the setting. Honestly, the combination of this alone would have opened up so much potential, as also the fact that the school is isolated from the mainland by tides. Perfect for thriller books. And sadly, that didn’t live up to its potential. The start was slow (which I forgive, as I always do) and towards the middle the action picks up, but throughout this the book it lacks the element of real danger. Only in the second half, do things become deadly and the ending a bit scary, but otherwise I was more or less disappointed that the book wasn’t more thrilling. The Guild was also a bit of cliche – teenagers playing make-believe and creating hierarchies. Part of this is because the protagonist is kind of bland – Cate is boring, and her boy troubles are exhausting. She seems like she is different, but she also bows down to the Guild like they are some savior group. Also, her outsider-in-a-school-of-genius thing really doesn’t offer much to the plot, as does her absentee parent past. She is mostly a wasted character, because there was so much that could have been done there. Vaughan was truly shady and I had my eye on him as the killer for quite some time. It should be mentioned that in the start, Cate is shown to be a little freaked out by stalking, but I did not understand why really – it was only a game at that point; no real element of danger, only the possibility of embarrassment/humiliation. And some things in the plot didn’t add up – like why was she kept in the sick bay on pills (!) or why the police were so incompetent. The identity of the killer was also a letdown, because it was what I was expecting and wasn’t exciting enough with the motive. The writing was okay in some parts and good in others. Some scenes really came alive while others not so much. Characterization could have been better and not made it a cookie cutter ensemble. Overall? I would say it had a promising plot but failed in executing it.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
Good grief. I thought I was going to have to double my anxiety medicine reading this book. Not only do these students have their studies to worry about, they also are playing a game. A game that is prestigious. A game wherein the players take on aliases and pretend to "kill" each other. The winner being the last person standing or alive. It's a tradition at this school that has been going on for years. This year, it's different. Someone is actually trying to really kill the players. And no one knows who the "killer" is. The pranks, while pretty high tech, start off pretty harmless, until a student allergic to peanuts gets bit by a robot spider who's fang just happens to be coated in peanut oil. This is definitely not one to start at bedtime. I could not put this book down. Yes, it take a little while for the story to get going, but that was the case of introducing the characters and the game. Once it took off, wow, I am still shaking. I could not imagine taking a shower and seeing red everywhere. Yeah, that's where the harmless stuff starts. This was definitely a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a YA, but I know adults will enjoy it as well. Thanks Sourcebooks and Net Galley for my free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. What a thrilling read!
Myndia More than 1 year ago
I SO enjoyed this book! It’s hard for me to imagine there would be a sequel to this, but I sure wish there would be. Loved the characters, the story, the everything. Finished it in two days, plowing through the final 70% in one sitting. Who needs sleep when you you’re entrenched in a world like this one? How can you even think of closing your eyes when everything starts heating up and you still have NO idea who the Killer is? Even in the last few chapters, when things were starting to unravel…I was guessing. So many marvelous misdirects! I really , really want to talk about the characters and how much I enjoyed one relationship in particular, but I fear I can’t do so without giving too much away (the whodunit is the best part, so we wouldn’t want to mess that up, would we?). Sigh. While I do understand why it wasn’t possible to dive more deeply into that romance, I sure could do with more of the two of them. YA is one of my absolute favorite genres and this book is a perfect example of why. Well written characters, complex and sinister plots, and falling in love for the first time? Yes, yes and yes! Happy to have found another brilliant YA author and very much looking forward to reading more of her work. P.S. This book was originally published in the UK by Chicken House under the title Killer Game. One of those odd examples where the US title is different than the UK title. Not sure why they do that (though I do prefer the newer title – how American of me, right?). Thought I’d mention it in case you’d read it under the previous title. :) Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.