Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."
Lea Saldana is a member of the infamous Saldana Family, which makes her a trained assassin. Her family is one of the many families of trained assassins, as murder is commonplace and not a crime in Lea's world as long as the murder is committed by an assassin (a.k.a. a clipper) from one of the families. Lea is hiding a big secret though. She has been secretly seeing Val, a member of the Da Vias family, and any Da Vias member is a sworn enemy of the Saldanas. One day there is an attack on the Saldana family home and everyone is killed except for Lea. She finds out that the Da Vias family is behind this horrid act. Not only is Lea devastated, she is also motivated by revenge. So, she flees her hometown to search for her Uncle Marcello, the only other living Saldana family member. It might be harder than she thought to find her exiled uncle; plus, there's many dangers lurking outside the city walls. Ultimately, the question is will her uncle help avenge her family's death and what role did Val play in the murder of her family? Sarah Ahiers debut, Assassin's Heart, has so much potential and many things that I liked about it, but ultimately, it ended up being just an ok read for me.
One aspect of Assassin's Heart that I enjoyed was Lea. She's a tough heroine and I love to see that in young adult literature. She is definitely someone who'd be friends with Celaena from the Throne of Glass series--they both are tough, determined and indepdenent. I truly felt for Lea when it came to her family and their untimely death Although I am not always a fan of revenge plots, I could see why she would want to seek justice in this case. But the problem is Val. Did he have anything to do with the attack on her family? The possibility is always floating in the back of Lea's mind along with major guilt regarding her secret romance.
I felt that the world-building had a lot of potential in Assassin's Heart, but it was lacking explanation. It never felt fully fleshed out. There are many assassin families, there are various gods and goddesses, dangerous ghosts, and many rules regarding clippers. It felt like a lot of info that never really meshed in my mind.
Another aspect of Assassin's Heart that I enjoyed was all the adventure and action. It was constant and kept me on the edge of my seat. Be forewarned that it was pretty violent at times (I mean she is a trained assassin!), as the focus was on revenge.
Fans of Grave Mercy may enjoy this book as there are many similarities, but essentially, Assassin's Heart ended up being just an ok book for me; entertaining, but not overly memorable.