Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Assassin's Heart #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: ARC Trade
Pages: 420

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

I have seen some really mixed reviews for this book. I wasn't sure how much I would like this one because of it, but I was pleasantly surprised! I enjoyed this book more than I thought I was going to!

Lea Saldana is a clipper. Basically she's an assassin that kills in the name of Safraella, the goddess of death. She is also a member of the first Family of clippers. The most powerful and influential of the nine Families. That is until she wakes up in the middle of the night to find her home in flames and her family murdered at the hands of the Da Vias. 

Lea is heartbroken over the untimely demise of her family, but also at the betrayal she feels over her secret suitor, Val Da Via, being involved with the slaughter. She figures it's all her fault and vows to seek revenge. She will kill the Da Vias or she will die trying. So she heads to the city of Yvain in Rennes to find the one person who she believes will be able to help her on her quest.

I liked Lea, being inside her head was refreshing. I thought her feelings seemed really real. Mostly in the way that she KNEW that Val was responsible for killing her family and she was trying to move on from him. It hurt her deeply because she thought she might love him and she trusted him, but he betrayed her and he doesn't deserve a minute more of her time. 

I liked the romance in this book. Despite what I said above, I thought that she was going to be hung up on Val. And then when Lea meets a new ally in Yvain, things eventually heat up between them. It was a cute relationship they had. He's so genuinely nice and helpful. I enjoyed the romance! I really thought I'd be stuck on Val for some reason. Like maybe he'd have some kind of actually half-decent excuse for what happened to Lea's family, but no.

Val's character in general is kind of just pathetic. He's a member of the wealthiest of the Families and he's kind of vain. He doesn't take criticism well. When he finds Lea again after everything goes down, he acts like they can just pick up where they left off. Like she needs to understand that he was in a bad situation and he couldn't choose her over his Family and that is somehow supposed to make her warm up to him. And then he basically acts awful to her and tries to ask her for help later on and just no. Bye Val. I think that he could have been written better. He seemed a little...... unstable??

I liked the world in this book, but something that seemed off to me was how they claim that clippers murder for 'holy' reasons. That just seems a little far-fetched to me. So there's some angry person out there who was wronged by someone so they go put out a hit on them, you take on that hit and somehow that is holy work? That's a bit, just off to me.

The entire country of Lovero and especially the clippers serve the goddess Safraella, but there are apparently plenty of other gods and goddesses out there. I feel like it would have felt more real if there were mentions of more of them.

I feel like there was a lot of repetitiveness to this book. Throughout the whole thing she is basically repeating to herself what has happened to her and what she needs to do about it. I didn't think it was a big deal, but a lot of the time, I find things like this really obnoxious.

The middle of this book is reeeeaaaallllyyyyy slow. The beginning has plenty of action, but things really slow down after Lea leaves Ravenna. When she has to search Yvain for the person she needs to find and get information and it just is slow. This weirdly didn't bother me too much while I was reading it either.

Something that I did appreciate about the writing was how when Lea got hurt, it wasn't like she sprained her ankle and would be doing cartwheels five minutes later as if it never happened. I don't know, it seems like if something happens to a character in a book, it conveniently just stops being a problem as soon as trouble arises, but that's not the case in this book and I liked that. I didn't like the Lea kept getting hurt, but I liked the it realistically kept being a problem for her when it did happen.

Overall, I was pleased with this book. I'm excited for the companion/sequel to this book! I'm curious to see what it could be about because I can't think of anything in this book that I wasn't satisfied with at the end! If you like fantasy, possibly Italian inspired culture, and assassin's, this might be the book for you.


  1. For the most part, I liked this one too! I gave it 3.5 stars. I totally agree that the middle of the book was slow - I kept flipping pages to make it go faster! But overall, pretty good. There will be a companion novel to follow! :D

    Great review, Cyra!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I'm excited for a companion novel! I hope it's a bit faster paced! I wonder what it will be about! I'm curious!


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