Saturday, February 6, 2016

#Saturday Review - Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Assassin's Heart # 1
Format: E-Galley, 400 pages
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.

Sarah Ashier's Assassin's Heart takes place in the fictional land of Lovero where NINE families are legally able to kill people. The Nine families worship the Goddess Safraella. Safraella is the Goddess of death, murder, and resurrection. 17-year old Oleander "Lea" belongs to the Saldana Family and is known as a clipper. As with all other clippers, Lea wears a specially designed mask that shows she is a member of a certain family. Lea's family is at the top of the heap as the story opens, but they have experienced major losses and now have an even deadlier family, the Da Via, itching for a way to end the Saldana's reign.

Assassin's Heart does have a feel of being a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but it is so much more than just a romance novel. Lea begins the story in a secretive romance with Valentino "Val" Da Via who is also a clipper. But, it's not all about the romance. It is a story of betrayal, trusting the wrong person, and vengeance after Val's family attacks the Saldana's and leaves Lea as the only surviving member of her family. Desperate for answers, driven for payback on the family that took everything from her, and feeling more than her fair share of blame for what happened to her family, Lia flees to Yvain where she hopes to find the uncle that was once banished from her family.

Yvain is a major part of the story and what happens to Lea as a character. Here Lea becomes more than a character deigned on getting revenge on the family, and former lover who took everything away from her. Here Lea finds a new meaning to life, a focus on a Goddess that guides her, and gives her more than she could ever imagine. Yvain is not an easy place for Lea. She faces a whole slew of challenges from an over-eager partially trained clipper in Alessio (Les), angry ghosts that come out at night, an Uncle who wants nothing to do with Lea's path to revenge, a Family not wanting to leave any survivors alive, and a corrupt law officer who is willing to stab Lea in the back for a boat load of money.

Regardless of the way I talk about the romance, there isn't a love triangle. Lea heart gets shattered to pieces by Val, and later finds a true connection to Les who is really like a puppy dog being let off his leash for the first time by his master. Assassin's Heart has a distinctly Italian feel to it. From the characters names, to the settings of Yvain and Ravenna. I dare say that Yvain kind of reminds me of Venice with the canals and boats. 

Assassin's Heart is a standalone novel although there are a few minor questions left to be answered. What happens next for Lea, Les, and Marcello? Do they give up their clipping ways? Will other families come after Lea? Apparently there will be a sequel/companion novel releasing sometime in the future. Guess one will need to have patience to see what Ahier's does next.


  1. OOoh nice!! I found this one to sound incredibly exciting that I immediately ordered it earlier this week! Sounds like it will be an intense read and I am all for it! Upset to hear that there's not a direct sequel, but hopefully the companion novel will do well to resolve those remaining hanger ons! Great review!!

  2. I like the standalone part, the romance is putting me off though. I've been spoiled with my recent YA reads where the romance is either nonexistent or very minor.

    1. Don't blame you about the romance. I would say that it doesn't get in your face. It doesn't really interfere with the revenge aspect of the story. It happens out of circumstances.