This review contains spoilers for the novel “Assistant to the Villian” by Hannah Nicole Maehrer.
“Assistant to the Villian” by Hannah Nicole Maehrer is by far my favorite read of 2023. This book made me laugh so hard from cover to cover. The grumpy villain and sunshine assistant slow-burn romance comedy was exactly the type of book needed during this week. According to an interview with Maehrer by The Nerd Daily, an entertainment website, the inspiration for this book came from a TikTok skit she had done. Maehrer said during the interview that she had fallen in love with the characters so much that she had to put pen to paper.
This book is a dual point of view with both Evie, the assistant, and The Villian, the morally gray character of the story. The book starts off with Evie losing her job in the village and deciding to take a walk through the woods where the infamous villain of the village resides. Evie meets The Villain while the king’s guards, called the Valiant Guards, chase them through the woods. This meeting was hilarious to say the least. Despite the intense situation the characters were in, it still felt lighthearted. The Villain offers Evie a job as his assistant after this first meeting. My favorite exchange of the book, and Mahrer’s according to the interview, happened during this meeting:
“You can’t kill people and be pretty. It’s confusing.”
“…You think I’m pretty?”
Exchanges like this happen throughout the entire book, even during the more intense moments. There is such a light-hearted aspect to this book that felt like a breath of fresh air. All the characters were written beautifully, even the “bad” characters were likable. Becky, an office manager that wanted the assistant position, and Evie did not get along throughout most of the book. Once they get to know each other a little bit better, a frenemy relationship starts to form between the two.
Not only is there humor and a slow-burn romance happening before our very eyes, there is also character development. It is not just with the main characters either, but the side characters as well. Each character is given a small backstory that you learn about as you read. Maehrer does a great job of adding these backstories in as part of the plot rather than a trauma dump session with the characters.
My absolute favorite part of the book was getting to read the morally gray character’s point of view. Being able to read how The Villain slowly falls in love with Evie and being able to understand this character from his perspective were some of the best aspects of this book. According to the interview, Maehrer said that The Villain originally did not have a point of view in the TikTok skit. All I can say is that I’m so happy she decided to add his point of view into the book.
The only true complaint I have about the book is that this is a very slow burn romance. The reader can see Evie and The Villain fall in love, but throughout the entire book only one kiss was shared between the two—from The Villain’s point of view, I might add. However, seeing how The Villain cares for Evie and how her presence calms him from his perspective makes it feel like there is not a lack of romance. I just wish there was a little more outward romance, their feelings toward each other stayed in their head for the majority of the book. Maehrer does a fantastic job of keeping the reader interested—I read this book cover to cover non-stop in about five hours. The plot twist at the end was somewhat expected, but done in a way that makes me want to read the next book. The second book in the trilogy is set to release on Sept. 12, 2024, according to Goodreads. I am very excited to see the friendship between Evie and Becky form and what happens to The Villain.