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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.
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.
Assassin’s Heart is a story of love and family, betrayal, revenge and redemption, set in the city of Lovero, where the God of Death, is worshipped by her disciples, the nine assassin families. They have the unorthodox privelege of being able to execute persons as a way of life with Safraella’s blessing.
The main protaganist Oleander (Lea) Saldana’s family is number one but this spot is a precarious one as their family and future has been decimated by the recent plague. Lea has a secret; she is in a relationship with someone from a rival family, the Da Vias with whom they share a territory, Ravenna. This family also has some bad history with the Saldana’s and the matriarch of the Da Vias has never forgotten. Being the richest of all the nine families they are primed to take down the Da Vias and would like nothing but to see them fall, and they make sure they do this in a particularly brutal manner designed to leave no survivors but Lea escapes and laden with guilt that her forbidden relationship might have been the instrument of thier destruction , she vows revenge for her slain family.
This story was so addictive and read like a twisted Romeo and Juliet with with some elements of the Godfather and I absolutely loved it. Lea Saldana was a particulary interesting character. She was not in the least squeamish or regretful about taking lives in her line of work and comes off as being very capable , fearless and cocky in the beginning.
After the tragedy, a new side of her emerges. She is fearful and anxious which just humanised her in my eyes. I loved her determination and stubborness which was necessary if she was to survive. She was quite arrogant and full of herself but I could understand that after having taken so many lives at such a young age, that one could feel invincible and with the backing of her God and her conviction, self righteous.
The unique concept of a world where an assassin was allowed to go about their jobs without fear of repercusssion was fascinating althout I dare say i wouldn’t want to live there. I felt the end was quite appropriate and most of the loose ends were neatly tied up and I loved the lack of a cliffhanger in this.
Overall, a riveting imaginative storyline complemented by well-developed , believable characters, with dark twists and romantic innuendos guaranteed to capture your interest and keep you glued to the pages, regretting that it has to come to an end.
Sarah Ahiers is working towards an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and lives in Minnesota with three dogs and a house full 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.
Sarah writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels and occasionally dabbles in Picture Books. Fantasy is her favorite genre, though she sometimes can be found playing around with Horror and other things that go bump in the night.
Sarah’s debut novel, ASSASSIN’S HEART (HarperTeen, February 2nd, 2016) is a Young Adult Fantasy. In the Kingdom of Lovero, where families of assassins lawfully kill people for the right price, seventeen-year-old Oleander “Lea” Saldana sets out on a path of vengeance against the most powerful assassin family of all.
She is represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary & Media.