Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Book Description:

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.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I could smell the rich aroma of Italy off the pages. The setting was beautiful and was charged with vivid imagery and arresting landscapes. The startling difference between the kingdom of Lovero and the places beyond its scope proved how well the author fleshed out her story world. I delighted in Assassin's Heart's atmospheric quality. It was like weaving a blanket made of the feeling, the essence of your surroundings and wrapping yourself in it.

Assassin's Heart was true to its title and satisfied my expectations when it came down to it being an assassin novel. Ahiers reintroduced readers to the world of assassins. She opened the massive weaponry closet and brought us to the laboratory filled with poisons and antidotes. I liked how Ahiers described action, in such a way that made it seem cinematic, slow-motion and then lightning-speed in my mind. I am a fan of action scenes and Assassin's Heart was filled with it. The book had an intriguing concept, Family over family. Assassins were grouped into Families, more like clans with members bearing a single surname, tied by blood, tied by marriage and tied by agreements. The good of the Family would always come first before their own families. I liked the concept although I had doubts about its effectiveness. People really tended to be biased when it came down to family and it was a difficult task to uphold the rule Family over family.

Lea Saldana was fierce, determined and always ready with her poisons. She belonged to the first Family, the strongest of all the assassin Families in Lovero. There was a certain kind of high and prestige that came with the surname Saldana. Lea as a character was amusing and badass. Blade-wielding, clad in leathers and stealthy, she was the stuff my dreams were made of. However, I didn't get as emotionally attached to her as I normally did with other characters. There was something lacking in her or the way she was portrayed that affected her relationship with me, as a reader. I admired her perseverance and bravery but then I wished that she could have accepted the kindness given to her more. I wanted to break down her walls and get to know her better. Lea was grieving and out for the blood of her Family's murderers. In her journey to prepare for the single, great act of revenge against the suspects, I went along with her, witnessing her hardships, watching as she met the challenges head on. She was a promising character and I admired her bravery but I just wished that I could have connected to her more.

Val was Lea's love interest. He was handsome, dripping with luxury, charm and confidence. Although, he and Lea were from rival Families, they were both drawn to each other. When you were sly and quick on your feet, it was easy to sneak away to meet at secret rendezvous points. But when your entire Family had the same ability, the risk heightens. Every time that Lea and Val were together could be their last. One wrong move could be the spark that ignited the bomb that would plunge them headfirst into chaos. I enjoyed Val and Lea's interactions. They were both lethal and yet risking everything they had for the wrath of the people they held close. Val immediately caught my eye right from the start. I wished that I got to know him better to be able to judge his character fairly.

The Da Vias were the second highest Family in Lovero. With them sharing their territory with the Saldanas, the tension between the two Families were at an all-time-high. It was like watching a collision in slow motion, granted that collisions were always bloody affairs dripping with betrayal, pain, loss and desire for vengeance. The families had a long and dreadful history. I liked how Ahiers gave us slivers of the past, with which to understand the present of the story world. 

There were mythological/paranormal elements in the book as well. The Clippers, the assassins, were disciples of Safraella, the goddess of death. There were sound explanations and details forming the background of Safraella and her works. Lovero was plagued by ghosts, who were hungry for human flesh to control and claim as their own. When the king of Lovero started worshipping Safraella, the goddess blessed the country and kept its streets ghost-free. This theme was tackled more towards the end of the book and it brought about a literary enlightenment of some sort. I liked the history painted in the book, however, I would have liked more background on the pantheon of gods and goddesses involved in the story as a whole.

Assassin's Heart is an atmospheric, adrenaline-riddled, action-packed fantasy. This is a unique take on assassins that would interest fantasy and mythology readers. I recommend this to readers who are looking for a fantasy that is not revolving around a royal family, readers who are interested in atmospheric reads (novels that give you a taste of Europe, Italy to be specific) and readers who want books with action and blood.


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


  1. This sounds like a fantastic fantasy. So glad you liked it. I want to read it too.

  2. Who can resist assassins?! I know I'll read anything that features this trope. :D

  3. I just started this one and the worldbuilding is a bit confusing. Hopefully, I'll understand it more as I go along. It's too bad though that you didn't connect more with Lea.