Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Published September 2016 by Harlequin Teen
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: 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.
I've had some good luck this year when it comes to reading unsolicited review copies. I'm not always a huge fan of fantasy, but more often that not when I've given an unknown book a try, I've enjoyed it.
I'd never heard of Assassin's Heart before receiving a copy, but I was intrigued by the unique premise. It started out really strong, I loved the idea of feuding assassin families, each with their own family mask and territory. I really liked that seventeen year old Lea was already in a relationship - finally a book that doesn't need to focus on a developing relationship. But things changed quickly in this story and while I was disappointed that the original relationship didn't last, it was still an intriguing and mysterious story.
Lea's love and loyalty to her family was admirable. It was understandable that she would want revenge, even if she had to include her boyfriend in the list of possible suspects. Lea is excellent at what she does, she's worked hard to become a skilled assassin and now she has to put all her knowledge to use to avenge her family.
However, once Lea reaches Yvain, the plot really slowed down and became quite repetitive. Lea is constantly swearing to herself that she will get revenge on the Da Vias, but she doesn't actually make a lot of progress. There's a lot of wandering around town, being captured/almost captured, escaping, training...but it really started to drag and I would have liked a bit more urgency.
I did like that the new romance that develops between Lea and Les wasn't rushed. They spend a lot of time together before things start to develop and it definitely wasn't the focus of Lea's story.
The ending wrapped things up nicely but it also felt like there was a sequel to come, and I'd be interested to see what direction the follow up would take. Overall Assassin's Heart was a surprising and interesting fantasy novel, filled with faith, love, and forgiveness.
Ableist Language: dumb, crazy, lunatic, idiot.
Thank you to Harlequin Teen for my review copy.