Cameo is an assassin for hire and she’s good at her job. Very good. She is also the stuff of local legends and frightening children’s rhymes. Her story begins after she receives an atypical assassination assignment and a chance encounter leads to unexpected changes in her “typical” assassin routine. Cameo manages to make friends and make new enemies when she becomes the target of an attempted assassination.
The story is distinctive in that the reader is uncertain of Cameo’s origins and what she truly is until about mid-way through the book when her true nature is revealed. The pacing is just right, with enough back story and action to keep the reader interested, wanting to learn more and even cheering on the “bad” guys.
Grammar/Spelling: I only noticed a few missing commas or periods throughout.
Character Development: Ms. McCullough-White does a remarkable job creating a killer that is both plausible and easy to identify with. Cameo manages to leave your heart aching for her to have some normalcy and acceptance in the world. Ms. Mc-W’s ability to present the reader with a unique cast of characters without them becoming too contrived or predictable is truly remarkable.
Cameo is our heroine/killer and she is exactly what I would imagine a person in her line of work would be: excellent at killing people, jaded and lonely. Throughout all of this, she still has moments of true humanity and even romanticism that help prove that she is not without a conscience or heart. With each revelation of her past, the reader is drawn to her like a moth to the flame.
Black Opal is the dashing Highwayman who loves fanciful fashion and lovely lasses. Opal thinks of himself as a debonair and charming gentleman who just happens to rob coaches for a living to support his dandy lifestyle. However, there is more – much more – to him than he lets on.
Writing Style: Ms. Mc-W’s style is something to be envied and is certainly as refreshing as much as it is straightforward. She doesn’t bombard the reader with too many details; yet develops the story with enough speed and grace to keep the reader captivated.
Her choice of character names is very interesting in that many of the names seem to have been switched from the typical masculine use to the feminine and vice versa. I have always been intrigued by the origin of names and words and for someone efficiently switching it up a bit and creating “new” names without stringing together a series of vowels and consonants just to “create” a different name is an excellent change of pace for a fantasy novel.
Continuity: The length of a character’s hair is referred to several times as extremely long – all the way to his ankles – and towards the end of the story, his hair is described as touching the ground.
Overall Rating: 4+
I am extremely pleased with Cameo the Assassin and am looking forward to reading the second book Cameo and the Highwayman. Without giving away too much of the plot, I can say that a book with a central character like Cameo is like nothing else I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I can only hope that Ms. McCullough-White continues this series for many, many volumes!
The story has some violent scenes; though, none are too graphic and there is very little adult language. Although, the dark storyline isn’t for everyone, I can say that many people would enjoy this and I would recommend it to nearly anyone with an interest in the more macabre side of life (or death, as it were).
Character Interview with Black Opal
An interview with Black Opal of Cameo the Assassin and Cameo and the Highwayman concerning her relationship with her author Dawn McCullough-White.
Celia: How did you first meet your writer?
Black Opal: It was the summer of 1987, and I remember it as if it was yesterday. The care she took crafting my image over and over, pencil in hand… of course I’m very aesthetically pleasing so I can understand the draw.
Celia: Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Black Opal: Oh yes. I really can’t imagine it otherwise, can you my dear? I’m just a little bigger than life… and some of the things I’ve done in my time, well, can’t give away the whole series but there is more to me than meets the eye. Of course, I might be willing to tell you love, somewhere a little more quiet, a bit more… private. Perhaps later, after this interview?
Celia: What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?
Black Opal: Oh the swashbuckling and the witty repartee are fine but the romance, well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mark that at the top of my list.
Celia: Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
Black Opal: Yes. The love scene. Good lord, she rewrote that thing around fourteen times until she realized that my original take on that scene was the right one. If she’d only listened to me to begin with, it wouldn’t have taken the woman so long to get the novel finished!
Celia: Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?
Black Opal: Once. I just wanted to give her the idea what it was like to be me for a little while.
Celia: What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Black Opal: Oh, let’s see… Robbing coaches, enjoying a bottle of good wine, buying a new frock… lying in the arms of a beautiful… individual.
Celia: Are you currently engaged in a relationship?
Black Opal: Would I have asked you to meet me later if I was? Certainly not.
Celia: Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?
Black Opal: What genre are we considered again? Sometimes it’s Dark Fantasy, others it’s Historical Fiction… I can’t keep up. Truly though, I’d make a rather funny character in say… science fiction, or pulp fiction, although I’d probably do just fine in Chick Lit.
Celia: If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Black Opal: The tower scene.
Celia: Do you like the way the book ended?
Black Opal: Oh yes.
Celia: Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?
Black Opal: As fate may have it I was able to convince Ms. McCullough-White to write a second novel with a storyline all about me. Well, all right there was another subplot that had something to do with a vampire fellow who took Cameo hostage, but other than that it was all about me. That was no easy task let me tell you, I spent months invading the time she was trying to write out the first novel, and forcing her to write dialog for the second novel. I know this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I was downright vexing. I simply would not shut-up. Ha, ha… and in the end it all worked out for the best.
Celia: Do you believe that you are suitable portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?
Black Opal: I am suitable for all forms of media.
Celia: Did you have any input into the book cover design?
Black Opal: Sadly, I wasn’t given the opportunity to speak my mind but I did influence Ms. McCullough-White that I should be on the cover of the second novel, and lo and behold- on the second cover, you may note there is an image of me.
Celia: What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?
Black Opal: Lame… lame… hmm… I can’t think of one- oh I know, she gave me small pox and now I have all those awful scars that mar my appearance, and I’m blind in one eye. For a moment there I thought you might be asking about something intangible such as… vanity or something like that. Silly of me.
Celia: If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?
Black Opal: The ability to erase memories.