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.
This is one that I’m gonna try as an audio, because I’m on the fence about it still. Glad to see you liked it though 🙂
I’ll be curious to see what you think of the audio. I want to start listening to more audiobooks – it’s a great way to experience a book differently!
Well, for starters, yours is probably the only review of this book so far that have liked it. Most of the feedback for this book hasn’t been good. I can see now that it would take a certain kind of reader (a generous, patient one) to appreciate this one.
OOoh nice! I just started this today and am liking it so far, yet I am seeing what you’re saying about the assassin families. It is a little weird that it’s just all so okay to hire these families to kill people for whatever reasons. And that it’d done out or religion in some twisted way. Don’t really comprehend it myself. I am liking the mystery to it so far though and keep debating Val’s character. But so far so good! Great review!
The morals are a little weird but I actually enjoyed that part of this book. My main peeve was Lea, I just could not get myself to like her, and there was too much repetition. Glad to see you enjoyed it though.
Thanks for sharing! I’m glad that you really enjoyed this one for the most part, despite the confusing morality surrounding the killings. That would probably drive me a bit nuts too but the rest of the story sounds interesting!
What a great review and I’m glad you enjoyed! This book I’m a little unsure about myself especially with the morals being somewhat confusing. I might give this a read or maybe just listen to the audiobook?
I gave this book 4/5 stars as well, but it was for an unrelated reason. Great review!
I’m torn whether I should give this a go… the plot sounded really great but there are lots of mixed reviews and the questionable morality really has me put off
This one definitely caught my eye because of the murder-for-hire. I am really glad that you liked it. I think, given your bullet points, I might like this one myself!
This sounds like a great book! I admit that I had not really read the premise before either, but I have heard great things about it. I kind of skimmed over the main bullet points. I am so glad you loved this one and I will be adding this one to my TBR!
I have to wonder if the conflicting morality in this one would bug me too – stuff like that can go either way for me, depending on my mood I suppose. Since this was mostly positive for you, I’ll definitely give it a chance 😀 Thanks for sharing your thoughts Nicole and you can be sure we’ll be comparing notes once I read this one too! xx
I’m so torn about this book. The premise sounds like it has a lot of promise but the mixed/negative reviews I’ve read have put me off it a bit. I definitely think that the conflicting morality will irritate me. Hmmm, I might still give this book a chance but I think my expectations will be quite low. We’ll see.
This book sounds fabulous, and I think I can push the moral issue to the side. Not knowing if her boyfriend did or didn’t kill her family and belonging to a family of assassins just screams read me! I’m so glad you enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to pick it up down the road.
THIS SOUNDS SO COOL! Assassin families and betrayal and not knowing whether the suspect is actually guilty or not until the very end…it sounds exactly like the kind of book I’m in the mood for right now 🙂 It’s too bad that the morality of greedy vs. respectful killings wasn’t explained that well, because that’s something that would bug me too. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for this!
I have this for review and I’ve been putting it off. I probably shouldn’t have read any reviews for this because it left me on the fence. I’m very hesitant but I’ll get to eventually. Thanks for this review, definitely gives me something to look forward to!
I actually have this one, so I’m glad that you were able to enjoy reading it and get something from it as well! The whole idea of assassins and having a whole family of them intrigues me as well. Love the questioning of guilt vs no guilt!