Goodreads summary: 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.

My initial thoughts?

YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes… Yes!

Let me tell you how I read this book. I read until the big murder scene where Lea loses everything. Then I walked away for a day because I couldn’t handle it. And then I finished it a day later. Because I could not stop.

I read an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) and I am going to buy this book when it comes out so I can give it to people and have a final copy of my own. 

I’ve been coming off a couple of underwhelming assassin stories at the end of 2015 and Assassin’s Heart just makes everything better. Here is a flawed heroine I can believe in! Here is someone whose shortcomings trip her up, get in her way, and drive the plot forward just as much as her redeeming qualities. Someone who builds meaningful relationships with the other characters.

Assassins are kind of the rising trend in YA so it is SO NICE to see one done this well!

And it’s not just Lea, all of the characters are fleshed out and three-dimensional! They all have motivations, wants, needs, and little quirks or differences that separate them from each other. No one seems cookie-cutter or fitting an archetype.

And I love the richness with which Ahiers has built this world, the lore of the Families and the gods behind them. I’ll admit, when I first read about walls keeping out angry ghosts, I kind of giggled. Angry ghosts? Really?

I have never been so happy to be so wrong.

This book does that pleasant thing where it meets my expectations and still manages to keep the story feeling fresh and new, with twists and turns that are a delight to read.

It is well-paced, well-structured, the characters are written like real people, the conflict is organic, the story never feels stale or boring. Also, the ships are strong with this one.


I can’t wait for Sarah Ahiers’ next book! Even though Assassin’s Heart is pretty clearly written as a standalone (with small opening for sequel, as is typical of a debut novel), I am almost as excited to see what Ahiers does with a totally new story!

DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC for free from HarperTeen/Epic Reads for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book.


Author: V. Kane

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is ANATHEMA, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @ValkyrieWriting or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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