Author: Sarah Ahiers
Published: February 2nd, 2016 by HarperTeen
Read: December 9th to 18th, 2015
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Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review*
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'd like to say that gorgeous covers don't allure me in, but they do! As soon as I read the blurb to match this beautiful piece of art, I knew I wanted to get my hands on it asap. This debut is a thrilling ride that's bound to capture the hearts of many readers. Lush with world building and a decent plot that's immersed with mythology, spiced with The Godfather's and Romeo & Juliet's influences, Assassin's Heart made for quite a thrilling read.
As you probably gathered from above, the world building is great! It's rich in all the places it needs to be, but it never feels as though it's told to us, but rather shown, which is a good thing. Ahiers' writing allows the world to be developed along with the plot so it never gets exhausting. The setting itself is very vividly described and really makes you feel like you're inside the story rather than being an outsider observing it all.
I quite enjoyed the plot as well. The beginning was very fast-paced and set the tone for the rest of the book. Everything that is mentioned in the blurb happens quickly and it's great, because you don't know what's coming next exactly; the plot really does keep you on the edge of your seat. Though, from a reader's point of view, of course I sympathized with Lea when the tragedy happened very early on, but it was hard to feel such grief, because I didn't know the characters all that well when all of it went down, hence it didn't hit me as hard as it hit her when she finally admitted to herself that this had happened.
There is romance in this book and it does have a focal point as you'd assume, seeing as the book is somewhat based on Romeo and Juliet's story. What I gathered from the blurb wasn't exactly what happened in the romance front though. You see, there are two love interests for Lea and as much as I liked the endgame and thought it was a better fit for Lea, I didn't find myself shipping it as much as perhaps expected? I didn't quite connect with the chemistry between him and the main character, which made me slightly frustrated when the typical romantic elements and plot points happened at the last 30% or so and the romance took over too much for my taste. I love the characters separately and the ship itself makes a lot of sense as well, so I do think a lot of people would enjoy this pairing together. Also, the ending is a bit too open for my liking, all things considered.
As a whole, Heart of Assassin is a promising debut by a talented author whose future books I'm more than excited to read! The setting, mythology and all the characters really do bring this story to life as one unit that, I'm sure, will appeal to a lot of readers. I hope there are many more books to come from Sarah Ahiers, because I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on them!
P.S. When I requested to read and review the story, I had an understanding that this would be a standalone in this particular setting, but turns out that there will be a companion novel and I'm actually really glad, because there is so much more of this world is left to be explored, and maybe the return of some characters we met here? Very excited to see where the author is taking it all next!
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5.0
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and in no way did this review copy affect my thoughts.