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Assassin's Heart
     

Assassin's Heart

4.8 12
by Sarah Ahiers
 

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With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine

Overview

With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn't stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she's confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.

Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn't able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there's just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/23/2015
A young assassin seeks vengeance for the slaughter of her family in Ahiers’s menacing, magic-laced debut. In Lovero, murder is legal if committed by a “clipper” of one of the controlling families, who kill in the name of the goddess Safraella. Seventeen-year-old Oleander “Lea” Saldana is an assassin for her powerful family, and she’s in a forbidden relationship with Valentino “Val” Da Via, an assassin for a rival family. One night, Lea’s family is killed by the Da Vias in a bid for power, and Lea must reevaluate everything she knows about Val. Grief-stricken at the betrayal and set on revenge, she pleads for help from the king; at his refusal she sets off across the dead plains, hoping to find her exiled Uncle Marcello. She soon meets an aspiring clipper named Les, who turns her plans, and her heart, upside down. Ahiers’s Romeo and Juliet–inspired world of gods, angry ghosts, and assassins is darkly lush, and Lea’s voice is strong and pragmatic, making for a stylish and rich read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
Booklist (starred review)
“Equal parts adventure, romance, and politics, Ahiers’ first novel is astonishingly good. This is a unique twist on a love story, and the exciting Godfather-esque plotline adds layers of intrigue. Fans of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassins series will snatch this one up in a heartbeat.
Gennifer Albin
“An electrifying debut that captivated me from the first nail-biting chapter. Spellbinding!”
Laura Ruby
“Love, death, family—and vengeance. This gripping fantasy thriller will keep you turning the pages all night long.”
School Library Journal
12/01/2015
Gr 7 Up—In the kingdom of Lovero, Lea Saldana belongs to the First Family of assassins. The nine Families of "clippers" are hired throughout the kingdom to kill in the name of the goddess Safraella. Lea keeps her relationship with Val, a member of the Da Vias Family, a secret. She knows her Family would not approve, but she can't seem to help herself. One night, she is betrayed and her Family is murdered. Lea must flee the only home she's ever known before the Da Vias realize they missed a Saldana. She discovers her estranged uncle is still alive and sets off to find him in order to avenge her Family and destroy the Da Vias. Along the way, she discovers a place and a mission all her own. The action and adventure packed into this first-person narrative will keep the pages turning, although the pace slows as Lea gets her bearings in a new city. The secondary characters are developed enough to be distinctive, and Lea's convictions and determination will keep fans of strong female leads rooting for her. The familiar elements of fantasy are all evident here. VERDICT Recommend to those who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and love stories; a first purchase.—Natalie Struecker, Atlantic Public Library, IA
Kirkus Reviews
2015-11-03
A betrayed teenage assassin seeks revenge against her family's murderers. In a lavishly constructed fantasy world with an intricate society of religious assassins, murder's legal—provided it's committed by a clipper, a member of an elite assassin Family, as worship of the goddess of death and resurrection. Oleander "Lea" Saldana, of the Saldana Family, is secretly seeing Val, a member of the Saldanas' nemesis Family, the Da Vias. When a surprise attack on her home leaves Lea the last member of her Family standing, she knows whom to blame: the Da Vias, Val, and herself. On the run from the Da Vias—who know a Saldana escaped—Lea must brave rival clippers and the equally deadly angry ghosts outside the city wall in order to find the other remaining Saldana: her uncle Marcello. He's been long exiled for some mysterious incident that involved the murder of his uncle (the Family head), and that is also the source of the Da Vias' rage. The worldbuilding—especially the story's internal rules governing ghosts and the way the worship of different gods shapes each country—is smarter than the story's protagonist, whose baffling decisions are plot-driven. Too, the exposition seems not to trust readers' memories. The pace limps along through repetitive prose and frequent reminders as Lea slowly makes progress, especially romantically (predictable but sweet). The final act's twists show more life than the rest of the book. It's a nifty premise, but the execution doesn't live up to it. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062363787
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/02/2016
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
99,877
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah Ahiers spent her childhood running around outside with her siblings, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Now, as a grown-up, she has an MFA in writing for children and young adults, and while she does less running around outside, the writing has held fast.

Sarah lives in Minnesota with three dogs and a houseful of critters. She has a collection of steampunk hats, and when she’s not writing she fills her time with good games, good food, good friends, and good family.

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Assassin's Heart 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun adventure
KittyKat4 More than 1 year ago
*This book was received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* This was a great book. The world the author built was interesting and captivating. I liked the main character Lea (Oleander) and Les (Alessio), the idea of clippers was really interesting and enjoyable to read about and Lea's journey and her character development were interesting. The exploration of te Levro's belief system and their God of worship Safraella was really interesting. Overall, this is an amazing read that blends action, romance and fantasy elements.
rubyredrose More than 1 year ago
i couldnt put the book i wish there was more to it
HSMeloche More than 1 year ago
Sarah Ahiers creates an amazing world for us in ASSASSIN'S HEART. Her unique blend of classic mafia culture operating in a setting filled with ghosts and gods gives her story a richness the reader can sink into. Lea Saldana's entire family has been murdered by the Da Via's, one of the nine rival families of Lavero. Her only hope is to find her one remaining family member, her estranged uncle Marcello, and pray he will join her in order to take revenge and take back control as the Family leaders in their city. On her quest for Marcello, she encounters Les, an orphan boy her uncle has taken in. Les knows some tricks of the Family trade, since Marcello showed him bits of what it means to be a Clipper -- one who kills for Safraella, the merciful goddess of death. Lea sees an opportunity to mold Les into a better Clipper in order to help her with her desire for revenge; she just never suspects she'll fall in love with him. As Lea and Les prepare for their attack on the Da Via's, tensions mount when Marcello doesn't want to cooperate and the Da Via's find Lea first. She has to use her quick wit, her loyalty to Safraella, Les's continued companionship, and her honed skills as a Clipper to figure out how to overcome her grief at losing her family and coalesce whomever she can to start the Saldana legacy over again. Ahiers has done a brilliant job with her debut YA fantasy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not a usual reader of fantasy, but I loved this fresh, inventive book by Sarah Ahiers. Her world of assassins, and family honour, and complex codes and symbols just transported me--and it is action packed. I've already told all my friends who love fantasy about this exciting book!
ACH More than 1 year ago
I could not put this down. Compelling characters, interesting world, a little romance, plus ghosts. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Family and revenge are front and center in this compelling YA fantasy! Not only is Lea Saldana an experienced assassin from a powerful family, she is a heroine who draws you in and gets you on her side. The world building in this book is fantastic. The intriguing city of Lovero is extremely well developed--from overarching concepts like religion and politics to the details like architecture and lush, sensory experiences. There's tons of action (including murders!), and the book moves at a fast clip. A terrific read with tremendous crossover appeal.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
With a reference like “The Godfather meets Romeo & Juliet”, this was a book I was very eager to read. We all know I’m not a huge fantasy reader, but as you’ve probably been able to tell over the past few months, I’ve been reading quite a bit more in this genre. So far, I’ve found a lot of really great books that I would have missed out on otherwise. This is one of those books. In a kingdom with nine rival assassin/clipper families who all worship a Death God, the chances of them all getting along are pretty slim. These families are filled with skilled assassins who are hired to kill others, all in the name of their God. A little tough for some to swallow? Definitely. Especially when they truly believe that this killing is all in the name of goodness, as the murdered will be reborn into a better life. This story brings the phrase “killing with kindness” to a whole new level! The two highest and most wealthy families, the Saldanas and the Da Vias, butt heads pretty consistently. But it’s taken to another level with the Da Vias sneak into the Saldanas’ house and set it on fire, killing the entire family. All except for Lea, the youngest girl in the family. She escapes, filled with rage. She decides the Da Vias will pay for what they did, and she sets out to find them and murder them all, as they did to her family. As someone who struggles with fantasy books, mainly because of their inadequate world building, Assassin’s Heart had no such issue. In fact, I adored the way Sarah Ahiers went about building this world before our eyes. And without the often-found super slow beginning where the story takes forever to get into. No, this story starts right up with tons of action, and later slows a bit to build the world to better levels. I’m always for a good kickass heroine fighting for her family’s honor. Though others have mentioned their fear that this story would compare too closely to others in this genre, I’m happy to say that I don’t think it did whatsoever. It felt completely new and fresh to me, and I really enjoyed it! I have to say, don’t plan on much of any Romeo and Juliet similarities. There is a bit of a romance, which is always a plus to me, but it definitely didn’t have me thinking of that well-known duo. It did have a mafia/crime family feel to it, which was expected. This was definitely a great first installment to a new series. And more good news… no cliffhanger!! It actually wrapped up pretty nicely, enough open-ended to have me eager for book two. I’m so pleased that I gave this one a chance. (Thanks to HarperTeen for the review copy!)
AsDreamsAreMade More than 1 year ago
Original Review Link: http://asdreamsaremade.com/2016/01/book-tuesday-arc-assassins-heart/ This book surprised me as to how good it was. I love it when that happens!! Lea is part of the Saldana’s, one of nine Family’s that serve the goddess Safraella who deals with Death. She’s a clipper, ending lives so they can be reborn. She’s one of the best clippers in her family until the night she awakens to find their family home under attack and her family murdered by their rivals, the Da Vias. What’s worse is her suitor, Val, was a member of the Da Vias who most likely betrayed her in the worst possible way. She vows to seek justice for her family and take down the Da Vias once and for all. So many good things were happening in this book. Ok not like good things cause it dealt with a lot of death and murder, but GOOD writing, plot, and character things were most definitely happening! I loved the whole premise of this novel. A girl assassin seeking revenge for her family against the betrayal of her lover and his family. Personally, I’m still not sure I could get behind a world where people hired assassins to finish people off, but it totally worked for these characters and Ms. Ahiers completely made it a plausible reality for that world. I loved the world building. It seemed to take place in a Fantasy version of Venice. Who wouldn’t love that? Lea was a flawed character in the sense that she blinds herself to the realities around her at times, which is what ultimately cost her family their lives. She becomes obsessed with seeking revenge and I loved her struggle with the dichotomy of her choices, especially after she meets Les. There is a complete growth for her by the end of the novel and it kind of sneaks up on you at the last minute. I love that Les brought that out in her. Les. He’s just so good! And nice! I know that’s an apathetic way to describe a character, but I mean it in the most complimentary way possible. His ability to be kind to people, even when they deserve the opposite is what first attracts Lea to him and what makes him so admirable. He’s Lea’s conscience and she’s all the better for it. I think that’s why she makes the decision she does toward the end. A few of the secondary characters were less than desirable and a bit predictable at times (i.e. Val and Lefevre). It had you rolling your eyes when they came on the page. Especially Lefevre. You know when you watch a movie or read a book and there’s that annoying character who thinks he’s bad, but just ends up wasting time in the overall sense of the plot? That was Lefevre for me. The plot. Holy moly. My emotions went through the roller coaster! In the best possible way. It constantly kept moving and there’s a twist about 3/4 of the way through the novel that will have you frantically turning the pages because that simply could not happen. I could have used a bit less of Lea constantly stating she wanted revenge. We get it. We know. Other than that, I loved this book. The ending was very satisfying and will definitely hold you over until the next installment. A wonderful story filled with revenge, redemption, and the true meaning of family. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!
Kathy MacMillan More than 1 year ago
The worldbuilding in this story was wonderful. Ahiers creates an expansive world of holy assassins and complicated family – and Family – politics, and a heroine at the heart of the story who must fight her way through betrayal and revenge and find something more. Lea and Les are a wonderful pair, point and counterpoint – it says a lot that I was rooting for them both, when both were unapologetic murderers. I found the way that Ahiers entwined murder-as-worship into every part of this story to be completely fascinating and utterly plausible.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***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. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.