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Assassin's Heart

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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.

420 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2016

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Sarah Ahiers

3 books373 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 934 reviews
Profile Image for Sasha Alsberg.
Author 8 books66.8k followers
January 25, 2016
I REALLY liked this book. Was really unique in the best of ways and such a cool high fantasy to read!
EDIT: WAIT THIS IS A SERIES?! It ended up so nicely! Whattttttt????
February 4, 2016
Then his lips pressed against mine. He clasped my hands. I strengthened my grip around his, and for that moment everything else ceased to matter. All that mattered was Les—the way his beard scraped my skin and how his lips tightened in a smile against mine until he laughed and pulled away.

“This has been an excellent jailbreak.”

I mean, I should have seen this coming. No good can come of a book in which the word "heart" and "assassin" is used together in the title. Still, I was curious enough to try this book out, and you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat, etc, etc.

I'm pretty sure you guys know where my review is going. We have an assassin! A murderer! The blurb promises us death, revenge! All that good stuff. YEAH! So I open the book and flip to page 2.
Val leaned closer to me, his thigh pressed against mine. A moment later his hand followed, fingers resting on the leather-clad skin of my leg. And though I couldn’t feel the circles his fingers traced, I still shivered beneath his touch.

I pulled away, every bit of me protesting.

“I’m working,” I whispered, but it sounded weak even to me. “And someone could see us.” That sounded even weaker. Our relationship was a secret, and the thrill of keeping ourselves hidden was half the fun.
Right off the bat, we got us a motherfucking romance, y'all.

So "assassin" Lea (short for Oleander). Is in a Romeo-and-Juliet type of forbidden lurve with a boy from a rival family. They were not meant to be *sigh*. But the thrill of it is undeniable, and the object of her affection, Val is such a charmer, such a catch!
I used to think Val was vain and spoiled and self-indulgent. Now...now I felt the same way, but there was something to be said for capturing a vain man’s gaze.
You know, usually when you fall for someone, you discover the good qualities in them instead of falling for all their bad qualities. Girl, you stupid.

But then one night soon after their tryst, she wakes up to find a full-blown attack on her family that leaves them all dead, by the hands of lover boy's family. NOOOOOOOOOOO! There is only one solution in this kind of situation.
What would I do? The only thing I could do.

Kill everyone responsible.
Bravo. BRAVO! And that's exactly what she does, she uses her competency and skills and so on and so forth to kill and avenge her family.

*bursts out laughing* Of course not, are you kidding? She proves herself incompetent time after time and is constantly having her ass bailed out by someone else while making mooney eyes at a guy.

I do not expect perfection in my heroines, I do, however, expect them to not be bumbling fucking idiots. Let me list you some of the occasions in which our "assassin" fucks up royally.

- “Poison.” I gasped at the pain blazing across my skin and through my flesh. “I’ve been poisoned.”

- Seventeen years in Lovero and never once had anyone seen my face unless I’d wanted them to. And now, after only a short time in Yvain, some faker had seen me. My parents would’ve been ashamed.

- The tip of a knife pricked against my throat and I froze. I turned my head, but the pressure increased and I stopped.

“Come out slowly,” a voice said from the other side of the doorway.

I’d lost my advantage.

- He glared and hooked my ankle with his foot, a move I knew only too well. A wolfish grin spread across his face.

“Wait!” I shouted.

He yanked and I fell, plunging into the dark waves of the canal.

- I dropped my hand to my sword.


I closed my eyes. I’d left it on the roof when we were knife throwing.

Les tensed beside me. He realized the same thing. All I had was a single stiletto in my boot.

Sloppy. So sloppy.

Uh yeah, how about no? Girl, you ain't no assassin, you're an incompetent moron.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,706 followers
August 11, 2016
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

In a county that worships a death goddess, nine families of assassins are her chosen disciples. Each family executes (HA!) their religious duty--legal assassination--from their individual territory, all except the Saldana and Da Via families whose territory is shared.

Unsurprisingly, these two families are also the top ranked, each of their blades kept sharp by the others', and, also unsurprisingly, while none of the families would ever consider one of the others an ally, the Saldanas and Da Vias share a particular rivalry.

That rivalry comes to a head when the Da Vias attack the Saldana home, setting it on fire and killing its residents in their beds.

But one Saldana got away . . . one girl, the youngest of her generation's active members, and Lea Saldana will not rest until the Da Vias pay for their treachery in blood.

From there it gets complicated.

In a good, intricate plot way, not a convoluted way.

Lea can be a bit much occasionally--like surgeons, arrogance is a required trait of assassins--but she grows on you as she herself grows into her character.

I also had some trouble in the middle of the book . . .

There's a lot of angst. Or maybe it's a little bit of angst compounded by the redundancy of the three pillars of The World According to Lea:

1. It's all my fault.
2. Trust can only end in betrayal.
3. Keep your eye on the prize (the prize being DEATH for ALL Da Vias).

BUT. Eventually, she calms down and things get interesting again.

And it really is interesting. Lea's world's pantheon is full of gods who are REAL. Not just effigies waved around to make the peasants keep toiling away in hopes of a better afterlife. The gods' priests have real power, and the gods themselves reach out directly to their favored followers.

It's really cool.

And as long as you don't let yourself get too philosophical about the realities of having legal assassination (jealous lovers, greedy business men, etc. having a green light to take a hit out on the competition), that's a pretty cool concept, too.

BONUS, no cliffhanger. In fact, the ending was so the exact opposite of a cliffhanger that I have no idea where we're headed next. But I will find out. ASSASSIN'S HEART by Sarah Ahiers is the most promising first installment of a YA fantasy series I've read recently, and I highly recommend it to any fan of the genre, especially those of you who (like me) love assassins.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 18 books13.3k followers
September 20, 2016
Super brilliant novel.

I loved the Assassin's world and how it is organised! I really enjoyed the use of Ghosts in this novel. For some reason I got a very 'Return of the king' vibe from the use of Ghosts, which FYI is a super good thing!

I can't wait to see what happens in the next novel.
This book was VERY fast paced, made me cry and scream and on the hole i really enjoyed.

Minor issue: The introduction to the mythology in the novel felt slightly rushed. I don't think this is a fault of the author, more the editor. But once you finish the novel is some what makes sense, enough to answer all my questions but some.
SAYING THAT, the fact Sarah has this mythology and 'God' system is very unique.


Cant wait for book two!
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
February 7, 2016

Assassin’s Heart is set in the kingdom of Lovero, where nine families of assassins kill people in the name of their goddess Safraella. “Clippers” as they are called, are respected by the commoners because their coins at the time of death are the only way Safrella will grant resurrection into the next life. If you die without her coin you will become a ghost and be lost forever. Our main character, Lea Saldana, is a highly skilled member of the Saldana family, the number one ranked family of assassins, until the day she wakes up to her house in flames and her entire family dead. Who is responsible? The Da Via family. Rivals to her own family, as they are the second family, and to whom her secret lover Val belongs to. Upon learning of Val’s betrayal, Lea vows to kill every last Da Via for this crime and thus sets out on a journey to find vengeance.

“I’d gotten my Family killed because I’d loved a boy in secret who used that love to destroy me.”

First let’s talk about the things I liked. I really liked the overall plot. It did start off very slow and took me about 200 pages to really see the gears moving, but once they did I loved it. The world building was really great. In his world gods and ghosts are real. Lea traveled to a lot of placed and I really liked seeing the different kinds of places she went because each place had a different tone and feel. I could really picture this world. I loved reading about all the political maneuvers between the assassin families, as well as the religious aspects. It was quite fascinating. There were many fight scene’s in this book that were great. I usually don’t like when there are too many fight scenes because they can get boring but they were all fun and made sense.

Lea as a main character was just okay. I didn’t love her and I didn’t hate her. I just didn’t really find anything about her to connect with. Which is strange because since she lost her entire family in a matter of a few minutes you’d think I would have had some emotional pull to her but nope. As an assassin she was very up and down for me. The first half of the book I thought she was a great assassin. There was one particular fight scene in the first half that had me really rooting for her because she was a total badass. But then we get to the second half of the book and I felt like there was kind of a disconnect between who she was at the start of the book and who she was in the latter half. And it didn’t make sense to me. She started making really dumb mistakes that an assassin of her caliber wouldn’t make. And it seemed like she was always getting tripped up by something. I just had a hard time believing she was as good of an assassin as everyone in the book kept saying she was.

As for the antagonists, I really didn’t like Val. Even in the beginning. He just screamed fuckboy to me and every time he opened his mouth I was rolling my eyes. Then we have Lafevre, the really annoying police type character, who is literally waiting around every corner to scream “I GOT YOU NOW!” Seriously. Every time Lea is in a sticky situation and then manages to get out of it, BAM, there’s Lafevre waiting to be a douche. I didn’t like him as a villain or a character. He was just annoying and was just there to be a nuisance.

Even though there were a lot of things I disliked about this book, I really had fun while reading it, and the rich world-building made up for the lack of character development. I could really see this being a companion series, because this story wrapped up at the end but the world is so big and there seems to be more stories to tell. So I definitely look forward to that!
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,281 followers
February 9, 2017
I had such high hopes for this book but I must admit, I was pretty disappointed. Everything I hoped wouldn't happen happened so you could only imagine how I lost the motivation to muster the energy to finish this.

The relationship in this story was compared to Romeo and Juliet but that concept was just a very tiny speck in the whole plot line, meaning it was barely there. Close to nonexistent, actually, because it was only ever explored in the first few chapters of the book. Besides that, the forbidden romance had no real development. If anything, the romance between Lea and Val took a step backwards, which was a shame because I was actually looking forward to it.

Val and Lea had so much potential and I was on this ship 100 percent but Sarah Ahiers decided to go with the usual "love triangle" route and introduced Alessio halfway into the story. I really didn't care much for Alessio's character therefore I didn't really care for the blossoming romance between Lea and Alessio either. There was zero chemistry between the two and the romance became such a waste as soon as I started to pick up on the love triangle. This book shouldn't even have mentioned Romeo and Juliet in the synopsis because I found it to be very misleading. It led me to expect a forbidden love story between two rival families specifically between Val and Lea. It started off that way but soon we start too see hints of another mediocre love triangle.

As for the Godfather inspiration behind the book, I actually really enjoyed this concept. I loved how organized their killings were and the meaning behind each death and its connection to their chosen God.

However, I do feel like the term "assassin" is constantly being misused especially in YA novels nowadays. When you hear "assassin", you think dangerous, slick, cutthroat, heartless, or something along those lines. But goodness gracious, these assassins never seem to actually live up to their titles! For someone who's born to be an assassin, Lea is certainly lacking in some areas. She's trained from birth how to be an assassin but she repeatedly makes stupid, clumsy mistakes. I understand once or twice but not every other chapter. Lea is a decent character, don't get me wrong. But she's just one of those people who does more talking than doing. "I have to get my revenge. I have to kill the Da Vias. Blah blah blah..." She literally repeats these phrases over and over again but never really succeeds in doing anything about it. Lots of planning going on but no actual execution of those plans.

Assassin's Heart started off really strong but sort of died off as the story went on. It felt super slow in the middle because as stated, our main character spends more time saying but not actually doing. On top of that, I couldn't even enjoy the romance because the story focused more on Alessio and Lea's side of the love triangle rather than the ROMEO AND JULIET relationship between Val and Lea that was repeatedly emphasized in the synopsis, which was actually quite a bummer because it was one of the main reasons why I wanted to pick this book up.

Overall, Asassin's Heart was a decent read. Loved the concepts and the world building but I was just disappointed in the direction that this book went.

I'm hoping the next one will be better!
Profile Image for Melissa.
356 reviews626 followers
September 15, 2015

Oh, the conflict. Blur rating alert!

I am honestly so wrecked about how I feel about this book. There were parts I really liked but at the same time there were parts I didn't.

You see, when I read the blurb I automatically thought this was going to be some type of The Punisher(the movie) remake. I was expecting retaliation at its best. I mean, there is nothing sweeter than revenge served cold right? I don't really care that this plot has been done a million times over. It will always captivate me because the driving force of hate and revenge will never lose its shine.
So when that wasn't the path this took, I couldn't help but be disappointed.

Now, that not to say this wasn't good on its own right. It was..but it could have been awesome. I'm going to be real simple and break this down to why I rated it 3.

World Building...

You know this is the lifeblood of storytelling. This can make or break a fantasy read and it really does tend to hinder my enjoyment when it makes absolutely no sense. But here? It was amazing. For a standalone this was so rich and imaginative in its history and way of life. The religions, the myths, the gods and goddesses, the ghosts were all brought to life with these character's actions. The uniqueness of the story (at least in the area) definitely had me hooked from the start.

The plot...
All that mattered was killing the Da Vias.

The book had a great start but it tended to have this problem where the main character would repeat the same sentence over and over again as if we were going to forget what the book was about. It felt like every chapter ended with the same words but it never really felt like they impacted the story anyhow.
After about 40% or so, it started to drag. But I guess at the same time it wouldn't be considered dragging since where the story was headed, but either way, it was hard to stay interested. If it sounds like I'm rambling it's cause I am.

The characters...
Lea: You know how much I love strong female leads so I was bound to fall for her. She's independent, willful, and at times stubborn. What really had me was, she was an assassin through and through. Unlike many books, we've read, she doesn't blab on countless pages about how great an assassin she is and then when put to the test is hesitant about killing someone *cough ThroneOfGlass cough*. No, she kills and feels no regret afterward and you can't possibly imagine how refreshing that is. The fact that she's a cold blooded murder and still the author is able to to make us like her and at times relate is commendable for YA. So kudos to you Sarah.
But...Lea isn't perfect. And I don't mean in the special snowflake sense. I mean, she's a trained assassin, taught to wield a knife since she can talk, educated in the art of poisons since she can remember, and still she made the dumbest decisions even I wouldn't make. I don't care if she's 17, she was brought up a certain way so acting like an idiot teenager is not part of the deal. She also fell flat. Her characterization in certain situations read as if she were a robot, emotionless. I never felt the anger, or devastation, never felt the loneliness, or the heartbreak. Not once did I feel the impact of what happened to her cause the feelings never left the pages.

I did love every other character though. Every single one. I felt they all held their own and really did add to the story in their own way. They all felt unique in their actions and had quirks peculiar to them. And the romance? Freaking adorable. I think it was the only part of the book that made me feel anything. I guess cute guys will always make my heart stutter.

So in the end
It was a good book...just not great. The ending was immensely underwhelming and I'm not particularly happy with the outcome. But it did have its moments that had me enthralled.

Profile Image for Jeff Zentner.
Author 10 books2,185 followers
August 20, 2015
Move over, Katniss Everdeen and Arya Stark. The Sacred Order of Badass Young Heroines has a new member:

Oleander Saldana.

Assassin's Heart is a thrilling, hard-pounding, intriguing adventure full of richly realized characters, romance, a gripping plot, and palpable descriptions of sight, sound, and smell.

I inhaled this book, and believe me when I tell you that it's way off my beaten reading path. I don't read a great deal of YA fantasy, but I know masterful worldbuilding when I see it. Here, Ahiers creates a lush, lamplit society—evocative of Renaissance-period Florence or Venice—with unique history, customs, religious beliefs, magic, and a warrior class that is utterly credible. Some serious research and thought went into this book. To say nothing of the research and thought that went into the various and devious killing methods on display.

This may be marketed as a young adult book, but there is nothing childish about it. I would not hesitate to recommend it to an adult. This would also be an excellent book to recommend to young people who are reluctant readers.

Profile Image for Ella.
568 reviews108 followers
January 25, 2016
FINISHED! This was really good and not at all like Throne of Glass! The ending threw me off a bit though, as it was quite open and left a few of my questions unanswered but it turns out that it's actually going to be a duology so I'm hoping the sequel will tie up everything better. Not sure how I feel about it having a sequel as on one hand I thought Assassin's Heart was a mostly excellent standalone novel but on the other hand it was so good I want MORE! Excited but a bit nervous to see where the sequel goes :)


I wonder if Oleander Saldana is a relation of a certain Celaena Sardothien..
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,618 followers
February 12, 2016
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

For a book about assassins, I would’ve expected more assassinating. Set in a fervently religious world where killing each other is normal, Assassin’s Heart featured more telling than showing.

The world in Assassin’s Heart made no sense to me whatsoever. Built upon a world with nine families worshipping a death god, the Saldana family are the most powerful and revered. But there is bad blood between them and the Da Via family, and they’re constantly at odds with one another. So they do what assassins do – plot each other’s death and kill each other.

What didn’t make sense to me, was the reasoning behind this. What does it matter if you’re the first family, or the second family, if there are nine of them constantly trying to off one another to win their God’s favour? How is there anyone still alive? The reasoning behind this, other than killing each other for power, was severely lacking. Killing and assassinating is just another part of life in this world, which is disturbingly normalised without consequence (and I wish we were told why).

While it starts off like Romeo and Juliet, with Lea sharing a forbidden romance with the Da Via’s Val, it quickly plunges into a story of vengeance and betrayal. But instead of finding out who actually killed her family and finding out who’s alive, she spends much of her time gallivanting around with Les, the young unskilled clipper. What results is an irrelevant romance with a lack of chemistry and the mandatory love triangle.

The other problem I had was Lea’s characterisation. She likes to put up a big fanfare about how family is the most important. But then time and time again, she makes choices that show just how little she sticks to her word. As soon as she’s given the choice – her lover or her family – she chooses her lover, which throws her characterisation out the window. Apparently symbolism is more important than her blood relatives (which you would think she would treasure more, given how little there are left).

I thought religion was integrated in this world in an interesting way. Faith is a big part of this world and it also drives consequence and people’s motivations. Although the messaging is a bit heavy handed on doing right by your God, or facing punishment.

The most disappointing thing about Assassin’s Heart, is that it has all the elements of a great fantasy novel: a unique premise, interesting world, badass characters, nonstop action and an unpredictable plot. But sadly, the sum of these parts did not create a convincing story. I’m glad everything was wrapped up by the end though, cos I couldn’t have coped with a cliffhanger.
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews988 followers
July 6, 2016

DNF at about 60%

Once in a while I am in a mood for angsty romantic stories, so when I saw some of my friends complaining about an absolutely whiny heroine and sugar-sweet romance I thought: ok, the heroine is a ninny but all I want is a decent romance, please. Oh my, get what you asked for, Nastassja. From this point I am going to rant a lot about all the things I didn't like about this book, and if you haven't read it - beware the spoilers.

The first thing I noticed is the world-building. It is intrinsic and unique to some extent, and I probably would've liked it if not for the way it was inserted into the story. It was served to us the most boring way one could possibly imagine (or at least I could). For example: we are reading a dialogue between characters and then in the middle of that dialogue MС starts to mull over some aspect of the culture or rules or any other detail, really; it goes on and on - feels like forever - and feels like the author tries to jam that information into our mouths like we are a naughty children refusing to swallow whatever grown-ups trying to feed us. No, thank you, I am perfectly fine without your food or in the case of this book - without your lengthy boring forced details. The sad part is that the world in the story is quite interesting as I mentioned before, so sad it wasn't presented accordingly.

Then goes my next issue - the MC Oleander (she is literally and figuratively a special flower) aka Lea. All they say about her is true: she is whiny, she is vain, she is indecisive, she is flat.... I didn't find any pleasant qualities in her; zero connection from my side. I struggled to understand her, but I was like a stranger passing by, and if she was lying and bleeding on the asphalt, I wouldn't move a finger to help her. Yes, I am that evil, but, god, how tired I am of underaged whiny teenagers.

But Val . . . didn’t he love me? Had it all counted for nothing?
I closed my eyes. What hurt more? The death of my Family, or the cold betrayal?

Um, I guess the death of your family should hurt more? No? You are suppose do avenge them... or am I confusing something? I thought she was better. And what about her talking all the time about revenge and doing nothing most of the book (I skipped through the rest and know that she'll get some kind of revenge, but that took her sooooo long *yawns*)
I needed to find my uncle, enlist his help and his knowledge of the Da Vias. And then kill them all.

I closed my eyes and pictured slipping my knives into their hearts, cutting them down with my sword, forcing them to drink my most painful poisons. They deserved it and worse for what they’d done to the Saldanas.

“I’m a clipper, a disciple of Safraella,” I said to my reflection. “Murder is always the answer.”

Actually, I don't understand why she is so bent on revenge: her family was pretty terrible:

Yes, my mother had tried to kill me again tonight. But she’d done it to make me a better clipper. In her own, twisted way she was protecting me by making me stronger.

Oh, did she? I guess, good for her? And the best part, she doesn't even have a well-thought through plan, but she says otherwise:
“Whatever my plans are, they are well considered.”

She is supposedly a deadly trained assassin, then why the hell is she blushing every fucking minute! I can kill without blinking but I can't take a compliment without blushing. Yes girl, you are something!
I blushed behind my mask and pulled away.

Les shot me a sideways glance and I flushed.

Oh, did I forget to mention that our special flower is also vain:
Did your mother or father ever ask if you wanted to be something else?”
I snorted. “Who would give up a life of money and power and respect?”

Now, let's finally talk about my reason for reading this book - LURVE. But, Nastassja, did you know this book has a love-triangle? *gasp* WUT?!!! Nooooooooo. And did you know they will actually die together like Romeo and Juliet, then they will be resurrected together (not like Romeo and Juliet, apparently). And one specific detail: the heroine will do all of that with the other guy. Not the one from the rival family? Nope. Not the one she is so in lurve with, but they are star-crossed lovers and will become enemies and then will fight their way to each other again? Nope, not this one. *double gasp* I don't believe in true love any longer... She will fall in insta-love with a different guy almost after *checks her watch* yep, approximately five minutes after they met each other *facepalm*
I’d thought I loved Val. But maybe that love had been built on the prestige of his bloodline, his talents, and his wealth. Les had none of those things, and yet his very presence made me feel safe.

Bye-bye Val, we found a substitution for you, his name is Les and he is not less then you, because he is taller.

I am so done with this book! *leaves the stage and slams the door behind*

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews839 followers
December 8, 2015
3.5 stars.

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

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.

What I Liked:

I'm giving this book four stars BUT, please note that my rating is really 3.5 stars. Four stars seems way too generous but three stars seems too low. I liked this book overall! I just didn't love it, and I can't see myself rereading it (although again, I did enjoy it).

Lea Saldana is the daughter of the First Family, one of nine power families that are revered and respected. She is a clipper, one who assassinates marks. Where she lives, people hire clippers all the time - it is te work of Saefrella, the goddess of death and resurrection. But in a sudden turn of events, all of the Saldanas are killed - except Lea - and by the Second Family, the Da Via clan. Now Lea's Family is dead and Lea knows that she must never see her suitor, Val Da Via, again. Lea must turn to a long-lost legend for help in her quest for vengeance - she won't stop until the Da Via's are all dead.

The beginning of this book introduced us to clippers, what Lea does on a normal basis. Lea is a very skilled assassin, and she's a rare one that has a liking towards poisons. But don't underestimate her - she is an excellent fighter, good at combat and handling swords and knives and all sorts of weapons. One thing she isn't good at is not fraternizing with the enemy.

The Saldana and Da Via Families have been at odds for years. Lea loves Val and vice versa, but they keep their relationship a secret. But when Lea's Family burns, Lea knows that either Val knew and helped the Da Via's do it, or he knew and said nothing/did nothing, which was just as bad. So... you know that their relationship is doomed. You can kind of see how this could have been worked into a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque romance, but the author didn't go in that direction.

Just a general rule when it comes to YA - if there is a boyfriend or love interest or crush at the very beginning of the book, it is VERY rare that he will end up being the one with the female protagonist at the end of the book. Take that as you may.

I like Lea. She is such a good assassin, and she wields her power justly and honorably. When her Family perishes, she becomes full of vengeance, and she's determined kill all the Da Via's or die trying. But she's smart enough to realize that she can't do it alone. I like that Lea isn't stupid enough to think that Val was completely innocent and blind to his family's plans. I like that Lea was strong and brave (and reckless and slightly crazy), instead of totally crazy and/or grief-struck. She kept her head, and she never stopped being bada**.

The story really picks up when the Saldana Family is all dead (except Lea). She must travel to Yvain to seek someone who she hopes might help her. She finds trouble and more trouble in Yvain, but also someone unexpected who quickly becomes an ally. But the Da Via's are just behind her, as are the lawmen of Yvain. Lea discovers many secrets from when she fled to Yvain to the end of the book, which helps reader comprehension (a loooot of things start to make sense!).

Lea meets Alessio (Les) in Yvain. Les is eager to learn what Lea is, and wants to be just as good a clipper as her when he sees her in action. Les is sweet and kind but also a bit proud and very stubborn. Les is a good friend and a calm influence on Lea. He's also our primary interest, and I much preferred him to the guy in the beginning (Val).

NO love triangle despite what you might think. Val is not a good boy... Lea knows that she can't ever think of him again, not after his Family killed all of hers. I like Les and Lea together. There weren't many physically intimate scenes of any sort in this book, but just the way the two of them sync up is special and something to watch (or read?).

I like the Italian influence on this book. The characters' names, the locations' names, the infrastructures (canals) - there were a lot of Italian influences present in this book, which I thought was cool. The role of religion is pretty significant in this book, and I liked seeing this theme.

Overall, I liked the book. I didn't love it, and it's not a new favorite or anything, but I liked it. It's a good debut and I definitely want to see more from this author in the future!

What I Did Not Like:

I feel like some aspects of this book weren't all that well-written. For one, Les falls for Lea super quickly - his feelings become apparent really fast. It's not quite insta-love since Lea doesn't fall for him very quickly, but Les reminded me of a puppy a bit, in Les and Lea's first couple of interactions.

I'm fairly certain this book is a standalone, which bothers me a bit because I would have liked a slightly more resolved ending. Don't get me wrong, most of the major aspects - if not all - are resolved; but there were one or two smaller ones that weren't (which I can't say without spoiling anything). Unless there is another novel in the series that hasn't been announced, I'm not *quite* satisfied with this book's end! It was very happy, but I wanted a few more tiny details!

There were some points in this book when I was reading and I thought to myself, yup, debut author. Some parts just seemed very cliche or poorly written, or badly worded or structured. Not a huge deal but I remember thinking this several times while reading. So, not a perfectly sound story, but still a good one, in my opinion.

Would I Recommend It:

I'd recommend this book to fantasy fans. It's not the most thrilling and amazing and to-do-for fantasy novel out there, but it's a good read. I liked it, and it was fairly unique. Not one that I'd probably return to, but I see others enjoying this book like I did. I wish the publisher would stop playing up the Romeo and Juliet thing though - especially when the synopsis clearly states a rift between Lea and Val. Smh.


3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I'm feeling slightly generous, I think. I liked this book! It was worth the read. Also, the cover is great! Nicely done, HarperTeen.
Profile Image for Anatea Oroz.
302 reviews515 followers
September 25, 2017
This review is also posted on my blog, Anatea's Bookshelf.

When I read the description of Assassin's Heart I immediately knew that I just have to read this one. The plot sounded so interesting and I just couldn't help myself, so I went ahead and downloaded it from Edelweiss. The sole premise: "With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet", told me I can't skip on this one. I really love The Godfather theme. Anything that relates to mafia intrigues me, and I always find books like that interesting because there is not much of them. Add to it the forbidden romance of Romeo & Julia - which is my favorite kind of romance - and you not only have me interested, you have me adding this book at the top of my TBR because I know I have to read it right away. And we shouldn't forget the whole assassinations on which the book is based. WIN!

Lea, short for Oleander, is a clipper - assassin in a modern world. She is a member of the most influential Family which ranks #1 out of 9 clipper families. They clip in the city of Ravenna, a territory which they share with their rival Family ranked #2, Da Vias. For Lea, the rivalry is not that important, as she is seeing Da Vias son Val. But still, Family comes before family. When one night she wakes up in the middle of night to find out that their home has been discovered and that they are under the attack, she tries to save the members of her Family that are still alive, but with no success. At last, she is the only live Saldana and she only has one task before her. To get revenge and kill all the Da Vias.

The author - Sarah Ahiers - did a fantastic job with world building. It is amazing how smoothly she incorporated the setting, history, religion and the little facts of the world together. The setting and the whole kingdom of Lovero reminded me of Italy so much. In my mind, I saw Yvain as Venice and Ravenna as maybe Florence or Milan. Everything was described in so many details that I wished I could live there, minus the whole clippers thing. Religion played a big role in Assassin's Heart. Clipping is done to honor the Goddess of Ravenna who grants the killed people a new life and protects the city of evil things that lurk outside the city walls. I know that probably some people will have a problem with justifying killing like a good deed, but I just look at it as a way it's done there - like our world doesn't exist.

[This paragraph contains some mild spoilers.] I loved Lea as our protagonist. She was a strong character and even if her whole world has just been shattered, she found a way to cope with it all - revenge. That was the only thing on her mind. How to survive and kill all the Da Vias. I mean, her boyfriend, assumably betrayed her to kill her and her family. She was alone with no one to turn to until she met Les, our real love interest. Even though it may seem like there is a love triangle in this book, there isn't one. Val was out of the game as soon as the Saldanas were killed. I am probably the only person who will think this, but I really hoped things with Val would turn out differently and Lea will be able to patch things up with him, but yeah. The author went in totally another direction, which I did like in its own way, I just think I would prefer the one I planned out in my own head. Les was sweet and sometimes clumsy, but he is still very dear to me.

Assassin's Heart is so far my favorite read of 2016. I love it when my fantasy books have fast pace from start to finish and there are no slow beginning or slow middle parts. In Assassin's Heart we have fast pace throughout the whole book. Some people were afraid that this book will be similar to Throne of Glass, and while I am happy it isn't, I am sure you will probably enjoy this one if you enjoyed Throne of Glass.

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Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,727 reviews1,279 followers
December 18, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“Family over family.”

free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

This was an interesting YA fantasy story, with some detailed world building.

I liked Lea in this story, she was an assassin, and she seriously owned that title. She believed that murder was exactly what her Goddess expected of her, and had no problems dishing it out, even when lines got a bit blurred! I did feel pretty sorry for her over what happened to her Family though.

The storyline in this was pretty good, but there was a big patch when the pace just dragged. The world building was good, and seemed well thought out, but the slow pace did let it all down a bit.
There was some romance in this, which started out of the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ forbidden-love variety, but then changed a bit as we got further into the story.

The ending to this was okay, and went in a slightly different direction to that expected, not that that was a bad thing.

6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,594 followers
August 28, 2015

Rating: 3.8 stars

Can you believe I finally finish something after weeks of trudging through countless of books.

Assassin’s Heart has a mesmerizing prose. This book will easily pull you in. The world building is rich and luscious, for a standalone there is never a shortage of history. The characters are well developed. Aside from that, it has a lot of elements that guarantees it would appeal to a lot of readers. In a way the story reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, with a twist.

I want to give it a higher rating than this, but I find the last thirty percent lacking. Assassin’s Heart will certainly appeal to High Fantasy readers.
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,312 reviews502 followers
January 31, 2016
I am so happy that I could read this book before the release date! I loved the world created by the author and I would love to read another book from her. This book was quick and easy to read because of its fast pace. It was full of intrigue and action. It was about family and revenge. There was also a sweet touch of romance in it but it really wasn't focused on that and it wasn't forced. I loved it.

Oleander Saldana is one strong heroine and I am not going to forget her anytime soon, that's for sure! I loved when she fought and used her skills. I hope you will enjoy her character as much as I did.

I liked the ending but I'm not sure if there will be a sequel and I really would like to have more of these characters.

***I wanted to thank HarperTeen and the author for letting me read and review this amazing ARC.***
Profile Image for Kim at Divergent Gryffindor.
470 reviews131 followers
December 31, 2015
Please be as awesome as the Throne of Glass series, but please, please don't be similar.
----- FINISHED -----

Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Well I just finished reading this book and I must tell you that thankfully, this is definitely different from Throne of Glass. Yes, the main character is an assassin with a murdered family set on revenge, but I can assure you that that’s where the similarities end. And while this might sound a bit sarcastic, I, again, assure you that it’s not.

In the kingdom of Lovero, murder is not looked down upon, as long as it’s done by one of the nine clipper/assassin families. Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is from the first Family and she has a secret - she’s been going out with one of the second Family, Val Da Via. That is, until she wakes up one day after meeting with Val to see her house set aflame and her family murdered. As the only Saldana left now, Lea is set on revenge - killing the Da Vias as they had killed her family.

I have to be honest. When I first read the synopsis of the book back then, I was really worried that it would be the same with Throne of Glass since the idea that it gave me was just so similar. However, I am really glad that all those were just speculations. Assassin’s Heart has its own story to tell, and it’s a pretty great story at that.

I definitely liked the world building in this story, and how the action was immediately there after the story began, as I have noticed that fantasy books usually take time to let things set first. However, towards 40% of the book, I felt really bored and I was just skipping narratives and I just wanted to get things over with. Lucky, after a few more chapters, the story picked up again.

It was interesting how everything unraveled, although it was not what I expected at all. I cannot say more because I’m afraid I might spoil something, but boy was I surprised by the turn of events! I loved how everything wrapped up together though, and I’m really interested about what the second book might be about!
Profile Image for mith.
751 reviews258 followers
January 31, 2016
oh boy.
no bueno.
I really wanted wanted to like this book. I'm a sucker for high fantasy and assassins. This had such a unique premise, too--people killing lawfully. In reverence for Clippers--fear, too, but the one that's overpowered by respect.
I mostly liked the beginning, the little back and forth with Val. Although I didn't entirely like Val, the short-lived romance he and Lea shared was kind of cute, given the circumstances.
After The Thing happened, everything kind of went downhill from there. Lea travels to Yvain, looks for her exiled uncle in hopes of getting him to help her with her revenge against the Da Vias. Only that doesn't work and she gets stuck with a little wanna-be clipper.
Honestly, the word building and characterisation fell awfully flat to me. I couldn't connect with Lea, and often times, I found myself sighing at her actions. Les was more or less the same, and I didn't see any depth to him. They were boring, and you wouldn't really expect "boring" from people who assassinate others.
I also found Lea's character to be AWFULLY contradictory. For most of the novel, you're preached one thing: Family over family. Family does not technically mean blood relations. It means people who are loyal, above all else--except their god, Safraella--to one Family. In the book, the Saldana's were the most powerful Family, up until they were ambushed by the Da Vias, the second most powerful. Being part of the Saldana's, Lea's goal was to get revenge for them, and for her, first and foremost. You'd think she follows that saying to heart.
Aaaaaaand yet.
I'm sorry but that pissed me off so much. So, so much. It was so stupid, so against everything the author made you believe.
The romance also kind of bothered me. From what I gathered, it's been 2 weeks--more or less--since The Thing happened. She hasn't laughed since. She hasn't seen light since. She doesn't think she can feel love again.
And, oh my gods, what do you know?! This boy makes her want to LIVE again, helps her LAUGH, teaches her the TRUE MEANING OF LOVE AND FAMILY.
Please. It doesn't help that the other party fell for Lea oh-so quickly.
Apparently this is a series. I thought it was a standalone, and, while the ending isn't all that concrete, I assumed the author wanted us to think of it however we wanted--so, y'know, I assumed they lived a semi-dangerous life, since they believe in a death goddess and whatnot. But apparently this is a series and I don't know if I have enough interest to see what happens.
Profile Image for Kali Wallace.
Author 27 books552 followers
December 31, 2015
I really enjoyed this book! It's a wonderful fantasy adventure set in a lush, interesting world full of imaginative politics, religions, ghosts, traditions, and social structures. I love the Lea, the main character, and I was thoroughly engaged enough by her anger, her grief, and her determination to go along for the ride. She changes and grows over the course of the book, as she meets people and travels outside her beloved home city and is faced with reality of a future unlike any she had ever imagined. I would love to see more of Lea's story and this beautiful world.

Speaking of people she meets: Les is an absolute darling and I want to steal him for my very own.

(I read an advanced reader copy of this book.)
Profile Image for Greyson | Use Your Words.
538 reviews34 followers
October 2, 2018
Assassin's Heart Series Ratings:
Assassin's Heart: Actual rating 3.5 ★'s but I am feeling generous.
Thief's Cunning: Actual rating 3.5 ★'s

“Dying is the easy part.” Marcello got to his feet. “But what you leave behind is another matter.”

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers is set in a world where ghost's prey on humans and the only way to keep them at bay is to worship Safraella, the god of death and murder. In the kingdom of Lovero, to appease Safraella further, the cities have Families of clippers who are hired assassin's and are respected and feared among the common people.
The first Family, the Saldana's, have been vulnerable for years since a plague wiped out so many of their members and their funds and warring with the second Family, the Da Via's isn't helping matters. 
Lea, one of the Saldana's last clippers, has been secretly seeing Val Da Via for years until one night one of the Families set fire to the Saldana's home, killing all but Lea. Assassin's Heart takes the reader on a journey of vengeance as Lea works hard to make the Family that took her's away pay.

For some context I'll say that I only picked up this book because I requested and was approved for the second book in this series, Thief's Cunning. I was not aware it was a sequel, probably should have looked into it a bit more but oh, well, bit late for that now. To be honest I was more intrigued by the second book than Assassin's Heart so I didn't have very high expectations. I think that really helped here because honestly this book is not incredible, but it is surprisingly easy to get through once you get into it. 

“You don’t get to roll over people. Just because you have permission to end lives doesn’t give you the right to destroy them first.”
Lea, our main character, is strong and sly. She doesn't take much shit and works hard. But she can also be too trusting and likely to run into any scenario, guns blazing, and loses her cool quite easily. She can be quite selfish, rarely thinking of others and she's incredibly prideful. Despite her weaknesses I still found myself wishing the best for her. 
She blames herself for the fire and attack that killed her family. And boy, does this get a bit much  by the time you reach the end of the book. It's like being suffocated by someone else's guilt and it gets old pretty quickly. 
Lea does grow and go through a decent character arc by the end of the book which I was worried we wouldn't get at all from her. But not many of the other characters go through much growth, if at all. 

“I fear you will destroy him.”
“He is too kind to you. He thinks if he is kind, then people will like him. And if they like him, they won’t leave. But that is not the way of things. You are a flame and he is a moth, drawn to you, unaware if he gets too close you will burn him up.”

Val started off as a fuckboy, and was still a fuckboy by the end. Les continued to give too much of himself to others, desperate for the people he cared about to not leave him behind. Like Lea, Les is too trusting and it will easily be his downfall. Also having two main character, one Lea and one Les, got a bit confusing. Probably should have had a name change there. Marcello is a grumpy old man, and like Val, the book ends with him still as a grumpy old man. Maybe they'll all get decent character arcs in the next book but I won't hold my breath. 

Maybe love was less about feeling wanted and beautiful and more about feeling safe.
There was an almost love triangle, and I'm super glad it never quite got there. It was less triangle and more human beings and relationships between them are complicated. Break ups are never clear cut, no matter the circumstances, so moving on is always going to be messy. When feelings are involved, it's always messy. It was a breath of fresh air having that portrayed that way in YA, as it doesn't happen often. 

The book probably could have been cut down more. It did drag quite a bit. I feel like this is something I've been saying a lot recently but seriously what the fuck are these editors doing? It felt like there was a lot of filler and unfortunately for me, this problem is far from being exclusive to Assassin's Heart. 

“You just gave a weapon to a child,” Les said.
“He’s, what, four?”
“He’s been handling weapons since he learned who to talk. He won’t hurt himself.”

This novel was very religious heavy and normally that may have turned me off but in this case it didn't and I'm not entirely sure why. The world was interesting and I look forward to seeing more of it in Thief's Cunning. I also enjoyed the fact that we got given what we signed up for, a female assassin. Not pointing any fingers, but I've noticed that female assassin are words that are used liberally in the YA world and quite often readers are left feeling ripped off. Lea isn't afraid to get blood on her hands, despite a lot of the book being spent on not assassinating people, I didn't feel short changed and there was more than enough fighting and violence to appease my appetite. (Does that make me a bad person? Do I sound like I need therapy? I mean I do, but it's probably not got anything this do with my book tastes right?)

By the end of the book I was left feeling unsure. It's just one of those books that isn't bad, but isn't amazing either so you're stuck in middle ground limbo and that makes it extraordinarily hard to write a decent a review. I don't know man, if you like 
“Nice. Though I’d choose a knife in the back any day.”
I nudged him again. “Be careful what you wish for in the dark, no?”

I read this book as part of my 2018 Library Love binge, where I read as many library books as possible to take advantage of my great local library network before I move interstate!
Profile Image for Brooke's Epic Emporium.
880 reviews193 followers
January 26, 2016
I want to thank HarperTeen for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review.

Just the blurb for this book sounded so awesome. There was no way I wasn't going to read it. I thought for sure it would be like Throne of Glass, which is one of my all time favorite fantasy series. And I really enjoy assassin books (ToG, His Fair Assassin). So, given the chance to read such a book, I jumped at the chance. And many of my fellow book lovers were enjoying this one, so why not?

Unfortunately, this book just missed the mark for me. It's a combination of things that did it for me. First and foremost the pacing. It was way too slow for me. I wanted more action, but it just wasn't there. And where there was action, it seemed the same as the last action scene. Repetitive to say the least.

Lea was a little too flat for me. I never really felt her emotion in her words or actions during the entire story. I wanted to have empathy for her, I truly did. But I just could not bring myself to feel sorry for her. Maybe it was how many times in the first seven chapters she told me about her forbidden love. Or maybe it was her complete lack of caring for anyone else but herself. Whatever it was, it made me dislike her more than like her. And disliking the main character of the book really doesn't put you in a good space.

The world was another issue I had with this book. I didn't really understand the world. I needed to know more of why it became the way it was. I feel in fantasy this is the most essential part of telling the story. I don't know the world, since it's fantasy, so the author really needs to show it to me. I just couldn't picture this one in my mind. And I didn't really understand the rivalry.

The thought of murder being ok is not unheard of. We see it in many dystopian books. However, I just didn't feel the reasoning behind the assassinations that took place. Truly, they weren't assassinations, they were murders. And murder is condoned as long as it's done by one of the families? What gives them the right to be above any kind of law? That was never explained in depth enough for me to feel it was believable. I do see where it was Godfather like in this way, though. So at least there's a connection with that comparison.

I'm not going to go into the romance too much. I will say there was a forbidden romance and then another romance and I didn't feel either of them. I knew from the start one was doomed. And the huge hint that lover threw at her at the beginning of the book had me pulling my hair out when she just said, "What did that mean?" and moved on. It was very obvious to me what would go down. And the fact that they reference Romeo and Juliet as a background for this story only fits into the first few chapters. I'm not sure how it can be toted as that.

Last but not least, there is a bit of a paranormal aspect to this story which I just didn't see as fitting in. Honestly, the way it was presented was confusing at best.

Unfortunately, this one missed out on so much for me. It could have been epic in it's execution but the slow pacing, unbelievable world and flat characters had me literally pushing myself to pick it up and finish it. If I hadn't vowed to try and not DNF books this year, this would have been over in the first 20% for me.

Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
May 23, 2016
The Assassin’s Heart is hands down one of the most exciting debuts I’ve come across in ages. The fast pacing leaves very little time to breathe, but with such an exciting story in hands, breathing becomes secondary anyway, and all you care about is the fate of the characters. Sarah Ahiers has an excellent sense of her characters and knows just what to do to keep us at the edge of our seats. I loved several things about her debut, but more than anything, I loved how it enveloped me completely, to the point where I refused to go to bed until I finished it.

Lea is an assassin for the Saldanas, one of nine prestigious assassin Families in the kingdom of Lovero. With the law of the kingdom and the goddess of death behind her, she kills quickly and efficiently to earn money for her Family and to keep them in their goddess’ good graces. Her Family is the strongest of the nine, with only one serious rival – the Da Vias. Being in love with Valentino Da Via, Lea hopes for the impossible, a resolution of their conflict and a marriage. But her world comes crashing down in fire and betrayal, and pretty soon she’s all alone, with neither money nor status to keep her alive.

Although the Assassin’s Heart is exciting from start to finish, it’s certainly not without its flaws. On the contrary, it has many. Some of the things about Ahiers’ world made little sense and the social structure required a major suspension of disbelief. It made no sense that people could pay an assassin legally to kill someone over petty grievances. With so many assassins working in such a small country, there would be no people left in a matter of months. I’ve also noticed how often in YA characters that are described as competent and practically invincible in the beginning turn out to be less than capable as the story progresses. At the beginning, Lea was presented as one of the best clippers (assassins) not just in her family, but in all the rest as well. The more challenges she faced, the more it became clear that she’s really just a girl, and she herself used the word sloppy to describer her actions on several occasions. I can understand characters losing when facing overwhelming odds, but to have them lose repeatedly because of sheer stupidity really grates on my nerves.

Nevertheless, I found myself enjoying Lea’s story even when she racing toward another stupid mistake. I liked her determination and those occasional bursts of wisdom that made me want to get to know her better. I also truly enjoyed all her companions along the way, including her grumpy, long lost uncle.

According to Goodreads, we should be getting a sequel eventually (although I’ve found no mention of it elsewhere). Be that as it may, this book functions perfectly as a standalone with its beautiful story arc and a more than satisfying ending. While I’m hoping for a sequel, and a very good one at that, I feel great about where we’ve left these characters.

Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,145 reviews1,010 followers
January 22, 2016
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
Ah, the kind of book a mini-review was made for! You know the kind- spoilery stuff happens within the first like, 20% of the book making it nearly impossible to tell you anything else about the book? Yep, this is that stuff!

I wasn't sure about it at first, to be honest. The beginning was a little "meh" for me- not for very long, mind you, but the very beginning was a bit underwhelming, even with assassining. ("Assassining" should absolutely be a word by the way, and I am adding it to my dictionary.)

I was kind of nervous about the whole mafia-themed assassins storyline would be really unbelievable, but the way it was presented made it really work in the story. I accepted the premise behind it, so that was good. I can't say much (seriously, this may be the most impossible review to write ever), so I will just give you the vaguest bare minimum of things I liked a great deal:

Lea is a fabulous protagonist. Coming from her background, you know she is going to be tough on the outside, but she grows a lot on the inside too during the book.
There are a lot of other characters who were very well done. No matter if I loved them or hated them (and there were characters that I really hated), there were feelings involved. And, their motives made sense and fit with their characters.
There were some fabulous themes running throughout the book. The one that was my favorite, and that I can definitely mention, is family, and how important it is.

The negative? Well, there were some points where I felt that things were getting a bit drawn out and repetitive. Like, we get it, you hate those guys. Let's move along now. But luckily it did move along, and I was pleased with the story as a whole.

Bottom Line: Definitely a win for me. I enjoyed the characters, plot, and world building, and I am very excited to see what happens in the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,001 reviews369 followers
January 18, 2016
I'm a sucker for a good star crossed lovers romance. Add in a family filled with deadly assassins all fighting to be top dog and you have one read that I just couldn't resist.

And while this wasn't quite the star crossed Romeo and Juliet lover's story the synopsis promised, this was the assassin story that I was hoping it would be and I found myself caught up in it before I even knew it.

This was such a fun read. It wasn't anything too special or mind blowing but it was well written and just plain entertaining and sometimes, that it is all that matters.

From the medieval Romeo and Juliet feel, to the adventure and action around every bend this novel was fast paced, quick, and flowed together nicely and best of all was a stand alone that left me feeling quite satisfied when it was all over.

It truly was something spunky and fun in the genre and I'm so glad I took a chance and read it and am truly looking forward to whatever the author puts out next.

*ARC copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Brittany (Brittany's Book Rambles).
225 reviews451 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 1, 2016
DNF at 25%

The pitch says it has "shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet" and though it does, it's awful. The plot itself is interesting but the writing is really cheesy and the characters are really annoying. The MC is supposed to be a badass assassin (which she feels the need to remind the reader of this constantly) but she doesn't show any signs of being the well-trained assassin she's supposed to be.

I'm really upset that I didn't like this one because I was really looking forward to it =(
Profile Image for Bee.
814 reviews209 followers
November 16, 2015
Istyria book blog ~ B's world of enchanted books

4.5 stars

Whew, that was quite a ride! Celaena, Cinder, Scarlet, Alina, Yukiko & others have a new friend to join their club of kickass heroines! Please welcome the awesome Oleander "Lea" Saldana, everyone! For reals, the girl can kick some ass. And who doesn't love a good, awesome, strong heroine? I know I do.

Assassin's Heart takes place in the kindom of Lovero, where nine rival Families of assassins kill people for a price, serving their goddess Safraella. These families are respected and feared by the common folk, but rarely trust each other. Lea Saldana is a highly skilled and powerful member of the Saldana family and has always trusted in their strength until she wakes up one day to find her home in flames and her family dead. She manages to escape and learns who's behind the attack. The Da Via Family, to whom her secret suitor Val belongs. Overcome by guilt, betrayal and anger, Lea embarks on a journey to get revenge for her family.

Where do I even begin with this book? Okay, the story. The story is pretty straight forward, with a few twists and turns thrown in and some new factors I haven't really seen before. Where this book really shines is in the way it's executed. The writing was fantastic, giving me rich world-building and well-developed characters. I normally don't care for politics or religion, especially in books, but I was so fascinated by how this world worked. Their religion is so unique and it goes hand in hand with their politics and I just loved learning all about it. The world itself was great as well. I loved exploring it with Lea!

All the characters are well-developed and they all have a reason to be in the story. Nobody is useless, everyone has a role to play. I'm still not sure what to think of Val and I outright hated everyone else from his family and some from the other families, but that was the point I think. They were the bad guys, so. I loved Father Faraday, even though we didn't see him much. I grew to love Marcello by the end too. His story was a sad one. Les was just so sweet. And awesome. I loved him so much! And Lea. Like I said already, she's a badass. She grows a lot in this book and I love her to bits. The romance between her and Les is very sweet, not forced in the least and nicely paced. If I had to point out one thing that irked me, it's the fact that I don't know if there'll be a sequel. The ending was nice, but I feel like there's more to the story.

Assassin's Heart is a must read for fans of the Throne of Glass series or YA Fantasy in general. It has a kickass female protagonist, awesome action, a sweet romance and fantastic world-building. What more do you want, honestly?


This review is also (or -soon- will be) posted on Istyria book blog.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,134 reviews309 followers
March 23, 2016
Nicely written with decent world building and a female protagonist who really knows how to win in a fight...well, she is a professional killer after all. Lea Saldana is a clipper, or professional assassin, in a family of assassins, living in a country where the patron goddess is Safraella, goddess of death, rebirth and resurrection.

After her entire family is killed, Lea becomes obsessed with the idea of avenging them, and accepts she will likely die in the process. However, she soon learns that there are other things that may make her life worth living. I liked the redemption angle, and even if it wasn't completely original, it was still enjoyable, and that's what counts.
Profile Image for Karen.
492 reviews95 followers
March 31, 2021
This is a hard review to write. The background is complicated.

I really enjoyed this book. The protagonist is a kick ass assassin (or clipper, as they call them in this story). She has been training since birth to kill. She kills quickly and with honor for the goddess who demands a blood payment. Lea was born into the Saldanas family. Her family is the first family of nine rival clipper families. Lea has a secret though. She and a member of the the rival second family, the Da Vias family, are in love. Their relationship is forbidden. Her place in the Saldanas family is not secure. Just when she thinks to help them by marrying a member of another of the nine families to help her own family’s position, they are attacked. Lea is the only one in her family to survive. When she realizes it was the Da Vias family that attacked and killed her whole family, she vows revenge.

I seriously loved this story. Lea is a bit arrogant at first. I grew to really like her. She isn’t perfect and this becomes even more apparent when she gets out of her element and ventures out to find her estranged uncle. She tries to enlist his help in her vengeance and along the way she faces danger and death. Lea grows so much in this story. I loved that her faith stays strong and she never wavers from her mission.

The world building in this story is pretty amazing. Each town has it’s own gods. Without the God’s (or Goddess’) protection the spirits of the dead threaten to steal the bodies of the living. There are whole sections of this world full of dead souls. The come out at night and travel over the land. Each city had a different specialty and structure of power. Since Lea is an Assassin we see the seedier side of things. Lea walks the streets and she travels by rooftops and undergrounds of these cities to keep herself i the shadows. There really is danger everywhere Lea goes in this story.

Lea meets a wanna-be clipper, Les, when she is searching for her uncle. Les and Lea form a bond that was so damn sweet. Les is just a good person, despite being in a bad way. He is a rock for Lea. Lea tries to teach him the clipper ways and she finds out more about herself along the way. I loved their slow burn romance.

I do have to mention one thing the author did that broke a main rule for me. I can’t actually say what it was, but I am pretty sure anyone that has read this will understand what I mean. I have to admit I really let it slide. I was so invested in the story that I just let it go. It was the only real detractor from the story. The religion is a heavy topic in this story, but I enjoyed it anyways.

This was really a great story. I would recommend this book for anyone that enjoys a good YA Fantasy.
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