Assassin’s Heart (Assassin’s Heart, #1)

assassinsheart_sarahahiersFirst Lines: I squatted quietly on the sloped, tile roof of a bordello, cloak pulled around my body for warmth, bone mask secured against my face.

I received this…a while ago…as an ARC…and it’s been out since February… #ARCFail  Well, it happens.  Life happens, but at least I got around to it, right?

In Lovero, there are nine Families that will kill your enemies for a price.  It’s actually lawful–and a religious duty.  This is the world in which Lea has grown up.  As a member of the Saldana Family, she has been trained as an assassin since birth.  She’s always trusted that her Family was strong–until the day her home goes up in flames, with her family murdered inside.  Lea knows it has to be the work of the Da Vias, the Saldanas’ rival Family.  Lea should’ve seen it coming, but her secret relationship with Val Da Vias blinded her and made her complacent.  But she won’t be anymore.  Broken by Val’s betrayal and vowing revenge, Lea sets off with one mission: revenge on the Da Vias.

The description on Goodreads bills this as The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet.  Now, I haven’t seen The Godfather (yes, it is quite lovely beneath this rock I’m under), but I can say there are some similarities between R&JFaint similarities.  I’m actually really starting to hate how books bill themselves as being like some other book/movie/play/interpretive dance.  Just let the book stand on its own merits.

But, if we’re going to hypocritically compare this book to something, it’s like a more fantastical-less historical version of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.  And this is a comparison I can totally get behind.  #girlpower  (…I honestly don’t know where this hashtag thing is coming from today.)

Let’s get real.  Lea was an interesting lead for this book.  She has one of those tragic backstories that epic tales of yore love so much (think like Hercules and Odysseus…wow, I am really all over the place today!).  So she spends much of the book yo-yoing between being sad and depressed about her family and enraged and vengeful toward the Da Vias.  She had some really good qualities, like her strength and loyalty, but it was almost like her backstory was partly a ploy in order to gain our sympathies.  …But I suppose that’s not Lea’s fault.

The other characters were interesting, but I did feel like we struggled to get to know them a little.  And that is Lea’s fault.  She’s so aloof and unwilling to trust after what happened that she keeps everyone at arm’s length and doesn’t even try to get to know them.  Hence, we don’t get to know them.  And honestly, I actually kind of enjoyed her interactions with her enemies over her friends.  That at least got an emotional response from her.

Ugh.  Now I feel like I’m making Lea sound like a revenge robot, but she’s not.  I did actually quite like her.  Now I’m going to change the subject before I say something else that ruins this.

The action, as you may expect from an assassin story, is pretty spectacular.  Not only do we have sword fights, fires, and poisons galore, we also have villains with questionable morals, ghosts that can literally kill you if they touch you, and a death deity that may or may not be forgiving if you cross her.  (Helpful hint: don’t cross death.  Just saying.)  Every chapter had some form of action, and that always kept the plot moving.

This was a pretty delightful read.  I quite enjoy stories with assassins, as I’ve mentioned many times before, but throw a death deity into the mix and I’m sold.  It always makes for an interesting read when death is a character (see: The Book Thief).

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