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assassin's heartWhat: Assassin’s Heart (Assassin’s Heart #1) by Sarah Ahliers

Who: HarperTeen

When: February 2nd 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

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.

3cats2To be entirely honest, I thought that when I picked up Assassin’s Heart that I would be reading a very similar story to Throne of Glass. Which would have had its pros and its cons. But it turns out Assassin’s Heart is really nothing like Throne of Glass, except that the female protagonist is an assassin that kind of defies traditional gender roles.

One thing I really loved about Assassin’s Heart was the world building. Lea, the main character, isn’t just a hired assassin. The country she lives in has nine different families of assassins who are all paid to take out people. Murder isn’t a crime in Lovero, and in some cases it’s actually looked upon as a kindness. The goddess that the Lovero’s people worship is the goddess of death and darkness (along those lines, anyway), and murder, as such, is not illegal or a crime, and the nine families are actually doing Safraella’s (the goddess) bidding.

THIS IS AWESOME. I loved it so much. No senseless killing for the highest bidder. A goddess sanctioned lifestyle that’s so dark and twisted. This aspect of Assassin’s Heart was practically my favourite, because it set the story up for so many interesting factors, and the information was drip fed to me rather than poured out in a dreaded info dump. World building = on point.

There were, however, four main downfalls in Assassin’s Heart. The first is that not a lot happens in this book. Which I didn’t particularly mind, but it did mean that things could get pretty repetitive. The main arc of this book is: Lea’s family gets murdered by another family, and Lea wants to kill them all, but first has to find her uncle. This is really all there is to this book. Unfortunately, there were a lot of passages that said exactly the same thing. About wanting to kill the other family (Da Vias), about wanting revenge and vengeance for her family, needing her uncle’s help, and, oh yeah, wanting to kill the other family. Reading the same emotions and thought processes and rationalisations got really quite tiresome.

The second is the romance. Almost immediately after the whole family murder thing goes down and Lea goes to a new city to find her uncle, we are introduced to her love interest, Les. There was such an element of slow burn in this relationship at the beginning. I WAS ALL THE HAPPY. Lea had little to no interest in Les, and was just intent on using him to exact her revenge. And then they slowly became friends. I was hoping that all romance between the two would hold off until the sequel because the book only spans a couple of DAYS. So when everything moved so quickly towards the end, the slow burn was all but negated. I mean, I do like these two as a couple, but I don’t know if their bond would have been that strong after only a few days.

The third thing is Lea herself. I didn’t really connect emotionally with her at all, and even after reading this entire book, I don’t really feel like I know her. I don’t feel like I really know who she is beyond an assassin. And beyond the revenge and vengeance that I mentioned in the first point. There were moments that I cared for her situation, but she never became a character that I really and truly cared about.

The fourth is a little weird, but it did impact my enjoyment of the book. And that is the fact that Lea going to the toilet was never even touched on. I mean, I don’t need a firsthand account, but it crossed my mind that she was squatting in an abandoned room but never mentioned where she went to the toilet. Going to the toilet is something that everyone needs to do, and I was kind of side eyeing the fact that this, and teeth brushing, and bathing, and really almost all survival requirements were never touched on. It took away a lot of the realism, to be honest.

But other than these four things, Assassin’s Heart was really enjoyable. I liked the slow and steady build up to the climax of the novel, and I will most definitely be watching out for the next book in the series.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: murder, assassination, loss of residence by fire, death by fire, and abduction in this novel

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Posted on: February 6, 2016 • By: Chiara

27 Responses to Four Downfalls of Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahliers

  1. Valerie says:

    OMg your last downfall though, LOL. Going to the toilet. It is a very good thought, and I feel like anyone who’s trying to survive needs to go at ONE POINT.

    I know I still have to read this, and I have heard pretty good things about it. I’m definitely not expecting a Throne of Glass, but I am expecting it to be good, hopefully!

  2. Tasya says:

    Your last downfall… Lol. But I’ve never see any ya fantasy books that includes the characters going to the toilet to do the basic necessities. Esp in high fantasy. It’s kind of unrealistic though. I’ve seen not-so-good reviews for this book from the bloggers I follow, and it’s kind of kill the excitement for me. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • Chiara says:

      I don’t know if I have or not, but I really noticed it in this one. Especially since it only covers a few days… I think the fantasies that cover weeks or months might get away with not mentioning it. But in this book we pretty much get to see every minute of her day and she never mentioned them T.T

      Oh, no! I’m sad that you’re not so excited anymore :(

  3. I’m just about to start reading this and have been reading some really mixed reviews! Your review was really good to read because it’s very balanced. I’m curious to find out what I’ll think about it. And your last point was hilarious haha! Great review :)

  4. Prima says:

    NO SLOW BURN ROMANCE? But I love them!!

    When has a female fantasy lead ever had their period or even needed to shower or anything?? It sounds like a good book though, definitely adding this to my to reads :D

    • Chiara says:

      I KNOW. And it started off looking like it was going to be one and then NOPE. :(

      Right? I mean showering can be in fantasy novels because they get all roughed up, but what about PERIODS?

      Oh, I hope you like it, Prima!

  5. So … I was very nearly going to request this on Edelweiss but held off at the last moment (not sure why actually, haha). But I’m glad I didn’t because the premise feels SO LIKE Braavos from A Song of Ice and Fire, although the lack of realism makes it less like ASOIAF. I don’t think I’ll end up getting this — I prefer books that take place over a longer time with more stuff going down, personally. Lovely breakdown, Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      I actually left it off Edelweiss for AGES, but then I kept seeing it around so I caved and requested, haha. SILLY ME. Ah, well. It was entertaining, I guess?

      If you’re not keen on those things, this might not be the one for you … Thanks, lovely!

  6. I am now questioning every book I have ever read and wondering when/how often/ where they all go to the toilet, bathe, etc. Watch me be hyperaware of it all in the next book I read haha.

    This is the first semi-positive review I’ve read of this book! Most people seem to think it’s a bit of a flop. I’m glad the world was so interesting! I am undecided as to whether to pick it up or not because on the one hand cool world and assassins, but on the there’s that lack of connection, repetitiveness, and a romance that could potentially annoy me depending on how much I like the characters :/

    • Chiara says:

      LOLLL. I can handle it if it’s mentioned just once, so I know that they aren’t, like, some kind of weird human who doesn’t need to go to the toilet, haha :P Let me know if your next book has it!

      Right! All the others I’ve seen are super not-positive XD Yeahhh, it’s not really one I’m going to be recommending, to be honest. There just wasn’t enough for me to fall in love with!

  7. Aentee says:

    I found this book quite disappointing and actually thought the whole murder in the name of the goddess thing was overall quote poorly handled? Like the morality of it was never really touched on. And the romance really annoyed me, especially when she out of the blue decided he was her future and therefore deserved to live over her family members. Where did that even come from?! I’ve just been such a sour grape over the 2016 releases so far, I feel a bit bad.

    • Chiara says:

      Awh, no! I really liked it. I get what you mean about the morality, though. And also any guilt about killing people? Even so, I just liked how unique it was :D

      UGH, yes. I didn’t mention it because spoilers, but seriously. She only knew him for a few days! *shakes fists*

      I have been okay with them, I think. Only one has really blown me away, though!

  8. It sounds great, and from what you’ve said I’m still intrigued and very much want to read Assassin’s Heart. I love slow-burn romances but that is a little disappointing that so much happens only in the span of a few days. And those everyday human necessities like using the bathroom — I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the author mentioned a character using the toilet or brushing their teeth, etc. The lack of those sorts of details doesn’t really bother me, but it is odd how almost all authors completely neglect such an important daily part of people’s lives.

    • Chiara says:

      I’m glad you still want to read it! I certainly enjoyed reading this one, but there were just a these things that I wasn’t the greatest fan of. Yeah, the romance started off so well! But went downhill :(

      I have, actually! Like, even if it is just mentioned once it makes it okay. But this book didn’t mention it at all, which was super annoying. And right? I guess they’re too ~mundane~, haha.

  9. I laughed so hard at the last one. Keeping it real here, I see. ;)

    But in all seriousness: I love, love, love the premise of this (worldbuilding is so very unique!) but I sort of can’t stand botched romances, and so I think I will be holding off on reading this one. (It is sort of a shame, though, because that cover is drool-worthy.) Lovely review, Chiara, thank you so much for sharing. <3

    • Chiara says:

      Always ;D

      SAME. The world was absolutely awesome, but there were other things that were really not so great at all. Especially the romance, which started out great, but ended up not that great :( No problem, dear <3

  10. Hahahaha the toilet. I do prefer it when they at least say “she relieved herself in a bucket” or something because it adds to the story.

    Anyways I’ve read many different reviews and they’re all mixed. I still want to read this book because ASSASINS but I won’t put my hopes too high just in case. :)

    • Chiara says:

      Right? I was like … is there a toilet here? Are you going to the toilet ON THE FLOOR? It really took away from the believability, haha ;P

      I haven’t really seen any positive reviews for this one! I hope you like it when you read it, Marianne :D

  11. I’m glad that you enjoyed some aspects of this book, Chiara. I know that Jeann didn’t like this book at all! I probably won’t be picking this one up because the romance sounds kind of problematic and the world/premise of the book could go either way. Also, that girl needs to give me her bladder!

    • Chiara says:

      I definitely did enjoy some aspects! I just wish I’d liked everything about it :( Oh, no! Yeah, the romance had such great promise, but ended up being a pretty big let down. RIGHT! Her bladder is the best, haha XD

  12. Annette says:

    Another YA assassin book that comes to mind is Graceling. I hate when characters are underdeveloped – this was the problem I had with Shatter Me last week. I couldn’t even convince myself to write a review for it, I just gave it goodreads rating. RE the rushing of the romance and lack of survival necessities, I can certainly understand how both would have limited the realism here. At least the world building worked well for you!

    • Chiara says:

      I have heard pretty amazing things about Graceling! So I am super excited to read it :D

      Oh, no. I’m sad you didn’t like Shatter Me! I don’t love it as much as everyone else, but I did quite like it.

      Yeah, the romance and survival aspects were the biggest let downs for me, really. But yes, the world building was something I loved!

  13. Annette says:

    RE Kristin Cashore, I found that each of her books was better than the last. So Graceling was actually my least favourite, but still good! And so highly recommend the audiobook versions, as giving her characters accents is just the icing on the cake!

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