Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers - Revenge is sought and lives 'clipped' short

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Released: 22nd August 2016
Published by: Harlequin Teen Australia
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Pages: 424
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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.
Thank you to Harlequin Teen Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Even though YA fantasy isn't usually a genre I'll reach for, Assassin's Heart still provided enough intrigue to keep me interested. Though it did take a few chapters to really convince me of its merits, towards the end there were a number of twists and a solid message to take away. 

Maybe Family wasn't stronger than family. And maybe family was what we made of it. 

The bounds of familial loyalty and a quest for vengeance lie at the heart of clipper (assassin) Lea's plight. Her family, the Saldana's are the 'First Family' in the kingdom of Lovero. However, a  secret romance with a member of the rival 'Second Family' the Da Vias, is ultimately the cause of their demise. It's interesting how this book features masks as identifiers - both literally and figuratively. While each of the Families have their own unique colour scheme or pattern which identifies them, it's clear that some are able to hide their emotions without them, and betray one another when you'd least expect.

They were so different, Val and Les. Val was arrogant and believed everyone was below him. Les was kind to people, even those who tried to push him away. Val tried so hard to be the person he was, with his appearance and his manner. Les didn't try at all, and his nature came through in a way that made my heart stutter, my breath catch in my throat.

Lea as a character was one I definitely wanted to see succeed. She definitely delivered as a badass assassin who, although not perfect - was flawed enough to make her realistic. Her strength and enduring loyalty to avenge what happened to her family were elements which gave her character complexity. While at first there may have been a slight 'love triangle' between Val and Les, ultimately these relationship dynamics gave Lea a chance to discover who she wanted to be, and what she would stand for. Another element to note was the touch of the paranormal with some ghosts making an appearance, and the spiritual emphasis on their god Safraella who dealt with souls in the afterlife. Though detail was lacking in terms of the physical worldbuilding, it was nice to have some insight into where the character's values and motives came from. 


In all, Assassin's Heart proved to be a satisfying read featuring an edgy protagonist and a hint at the paranormal. As a debut novelist, I can definitely see that Sarah Ahiers has a lot of potential. 


  1. Well I'm glad you liked this one!!😜 I didn't have much luck with it, omg, and the trope of "assassins who always fail at assassining" really bothers me. hhe. BUT! I actually understand the masks now after reading your review!! I didn't get why they bothered with them since they were all so easily identified (like you knew the person based on their what was the point?!) But then you pointed out it's to hide emotions too and I'm like "OMGGG LIGHTBULB MOMENT". So thanks for that!!😂 Anyway, I truly am glad you enjoyed this one. :D

    (Also I ashamedly haven't visited your blog for a while...but I love this design. Everything is so pretty.😍)

    1. I can see what you mean Cait - I guess I haven't read enough books about assassin's to pick up that trope! Haha glad my review could help :) Thanks for your kind words <3

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one Genie! I wasn't a fan with the writing in this one and the love triangle was kind of offputting at the start. Lea was definitely determined, that's for sure!

    1. She certainly was! Thanks for stopping by Jeann :)

  3. I felt pretty much the same way about this one as you did, Eugenia! I definitely didn't make it to the favourites list, but it was still a title I enjoyed.

    Personally, I would have loved to see more world building, because I feel like it had a lot of potential! What we did get to see was pretty unique, and it didn't just seem like a regurgitation of a lot of fantasy YAs that we see nowadays.

    I really liked the relationship between Les and Lea, and I was SO glad that it didn't turn into a love triangle!

    Did you know there's going to be a companion book?

    Lovely review! ^.^

    1. I can definitely see what you mean Chiara, and thanks for letting me know about the companion novel!


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