Series: Assassin's Heart #1
Published by Harper Teen on 2/2/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing shown)
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.
Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.
With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.
This is one of those times when I’m actually glad I went into the book relatively cold – I had just barely perused some reviews of the book well before I read it and didn’t read the blurb right before I started reading. So, I had NO idea what was going to happen, and I appreciated that. Having said that, in order to review the book, I have to at least mention details that were in the blurb, so if you’re planning on reading this one soon and like to be surprised, you might want to just skim my bullet points and skip right to my final thoughts!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Love or not? I loved that this was one of those books where you truly weren’t sure whether the love interest was guilty or not. When Lea’s family is killed, all signs point to her boyfriend having betrayed her, but there’s some definite doubt woven in as well. Is it a coincidence? If not, did Val willingly betray Lea or was it all some sort of mistake? Was he being used or was he an actual participant in the betrayal? I loved these kind of questions and was actually pretty thrilled with the conclusions.
- Lea. In general, I was a big fan of Lea and empathized with her and the really horrible situation she was in. My connection to the characters in this book is definitely what kept me turning the pages. Lea had some shortcomings for sure (for a master assassin, she kind of made a lot of rookie mistakes), but I connected with her so I was willing to forgive when she did something a little dumb. For me, this is the sign of a skilled author because I didn’t always agree with Lea’s actions or even her motives, but Ahiers still had me wrapped up in her enough that I wanted to see her succeed.
- The romance. I actually don’t want to say much about this at all except that I was a huge fan of where the romance went.
What Left Me Wanting More:
- Questionable morality. Okay, the one thing that really kind of marred this book for me was the lack of logic behind the moral code. Lea and her family were part of an assassin family – as far as I could tell, anyone was allowed to pay for their services and have someone killed. It’s not like they were only killing really horrible people who definitely deserved it. I mean, the implication was that only people who had done something really wrong would end up being targeted, but there were no rules around this or true limits beyond the fear of retribution. The implication was that this was okay because the assassinations were worship to their god, but I didn’t see how that made it all that much better. It just made me think not as highly of their god. THEN when Lea’s family is killed it’s SO horrible – because somehow it’s not done in honor of their god but out of greed. But I just didn’t see how the other deaths that were bought couldn’t be done out of greed too, so I felt like it was a bit hypocritical to complain about it. (By the way, this was addressed in the book, but the explanation didn’t make enough sense to me to assuage my misgivings.) Still, I did just kind of let this go for the most part and told myself that this was a part of their religion I just couldn’t understand, and I went with it. If I’d dwelled on it too much, it probably would have bothered me a lot more.
So, if you can look beyond the somewhat conflicting moral messages in this book and just enjoy the ride, then you’ll be very pleased. I appreciated the intriguing society that Ahiers created (even when I wasn’t sure I agreed with all its rules) and I was strongly connected to the characters. Overall, I give this one 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About Sarah Ahiers
I was born on a February afternoon 2 minutes before my twin sister. Angels wept or something, I suppose.
After a happy childhood filled with fun and family, I obtained a BA in English with an emphasis in fiction writing from the University of Minnesota, during which I was a bookseller. I also spent a semester as the fiction editor of The Wayfarer, the literary magazine for the U of MN.
I am currently enrolled in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and am repped by Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media
I live in a suburb of St Paul, MN in a house I own with my twin sister. We share the house with our brother, 3 dogs, 4 guinea pigs, 2 cockatiels, fish and occasional foster animals from the shelter.
Besides writing and reading, I enjoy dogs, animals, my family, board games, yard games, video games, cooking, gardening and dressing up for the MN Renaissance Festival.