Assassin’s Heart – YA that is part Romeo and Juliet, part Dia De Los Muertes

Assassin’s Heart – YA that is part Romeo and Juliet, part Dia De Los Muertes

This is a good old fashioned “Hell hath no fury” read, and I enjoyed it. For me, this book’s plot is actually secondary because the world building really stole the show.  Ghosts and goddesses, codes of conduct and questionable morals that are ruled by honor all make for a richly imagined setting.  I could see this place in my mind so clearly, and I’m desperate to read another story set in this deadly and enchanting place.


Goodreads Summary

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.

My Thoughts

As far as assassins go, Lea is no joke.  She is a killing machine, and she doesn’t hesitate to get the job done.  I think she makes a few questionable decisions, and her emotions certainly drive her to an extreme, but I still liked her journey back from the underworld, a place we could all end up under the right circumstances.  I did feel the story lagged a lot at the midpoint, and Lia spends way too much time hanging out trying to reconnect with the last of her remaining family, but it didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment.  I also wasn’t swept away by the romance in this story, and I don’t think I was meant to be because this felt more about loyalty and friendship than lust (once bitten, twice shy and all), but the readers who want that Romeo and Juliet kind of love might be disappointed.  This is Romeo and Juliet gone even more wrong than it did the first time.  Some people will find the mystical elements stretch their suspension of disbelief, but I thought those were some of the most powerful moments in the book and I bought into them wholeheartedly.  The resolution was smart, satisfying, and exactly what I wanted.  I think this book will capture the imaginations of my high school readers, especially those who have enjoyed Sarah J. Mass’ Throne of Glass books and the His Fair Assassin’s series.  I’m adding it to my classroom library wish list, and I’m keeping an eye on this author.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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