Monday, 21 December 2015

Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Title: Assassin's Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Release date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 295

Source: Edelweiss

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.

Assassin's Heart is a wonderfully fast-paced action-packed novel with a fierce protagonist and a great plot. This book is a stand-alone story, so no cliffhangers of any sort, which I loved because I don't really see that in YA fantasy. The characters are complex, and the twists and turns in the plot had me at the edge of my seat for most of the novel.

Lea is a clipper (which is what they call assassins in this world), part of the most respected Family - the Saldanas. She has a secret, though - she's in a forbidden relationship with Val, who is part of the Da Vias, rivals of the Saldanas. The two families have a long and hostile history, so Lea can never let anyone know. But this secrecy might just have led to the massacre of her entire Family, thanks to a possible betrayal by the love of her life. Lea sets out to find her uncle, an estranged clipper, so they can together avenge the deaths of their Family.

Firstly, kudos to the author for the plot originality. I've read so many YA fantasies that have meshed together in my head because they're all so similar. This one really stood out to me. I felt kind of iffy at first because it seemed to be a Romeo and Juliet retelling of sorts, but then the twists began, and things got interesting!

I loved Lea's character - no surprise. Though she seems like the typical tough, strong, badass YA heroine we see a lot of these days, Lea has a few characteristics that set her apart. She's not perfect, obviously, or she wouldn't have unknowingly become the cause of her Family's massacre. She has a certain vulnerability about her, that she doesn't show under any circumstances. I loved how driven she was throughout the novel, and how much she cares about her family as well as the new people she meets later on.

And now we get to those new people. When Lea finds her uncle, Marcello, she also meets Alessio, her uncle's protegee. Alessio is learning how to be a clipper from Marcello - well, as much as he can, anyway. Les brings a spark of light to an otherwise dark novel, and his attitude got to me as much as it did to Lea. He's humourous, kind, strong-willed, and incredibly understanding. Though very different from Lea in many ways, he complements her character really well. I loved seeing the two of them interact.

There's so much more I want to say about this, but I don't want to give anything away. A few other things, though - I liked the role reversal aspect where the girl ends up protecting the guy most of the time. Lea really knows what she's doing, while Les is just learning how to fight like a clipper. Another thing I found interesting was the spiritual aspect. The Families worship a common god, Safraella, and unexplainable things happen that are attested to the presence of gods in this world. I look forward to seeing how this is developed in the companion novel.

So overall, I really enjoyed how different this is from most fantasies. And of course, I need lots of action in the books I read so that was great. I would've liked the other main and supporting characters to be developed a little more, but I guess that's just the downside of having a standalone novel. Though I'm now curious what the companion will be about! In any case, this was a great read and I really recommend this to fantasy and action lovers.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5


  1. Gorgeous review Richa :) I'm glad you liked this book a lot. YAY :D I have decided that I won't read it :p but you do make the plot sounds awesome :) Thank you for sharing. <3

  2. This is one of my most anticipated books of 2016 so I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love books with feuding families and it sounds like I'm going to love Lea :) Great review!

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf


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