Lea Saldana is a clipper. A clipper is an assassin, but one who kills for their god so that the victim can be reborn. Lea's family is the number one clan in the kingdom of Lovero. She is in a secret, forbidden relationship with Val, a member of the rival clan, the Da Vias, who are hated by all of Lea's family.
During the night, a fire rips through the secret home of the Saldana family and all are killed except for Lea. She's on the run, realizing that the Da Vias are responsible for the murders of her family and will soon be coming after her. She vows to seek revenge and kill them all.
She makes a daring escape through a field of ghosts and hides in a town where she believes her estranged uncle lives. She wants to convince him to help her go after the Da Via family. This kingdom is very different, believing in a different god, and having no clippers. She meets Les, who her uncle has begun to train as a clipper. Her uncle makes it very clear that he will be no help, so Lea promises Les she will finish his training and he can help her kill the Da Via family.
I found Assassin's Heart to be slow and repetitive for about 60% of the story. I had a hard time picking it up to read, and I'm not sure why. I didn't really like Lea -- she made some stupid decisions for no apparent reason. The plot progressed very slowly. But at about 60%, it really took off and I finished it in pretty much one sitting. It was worth the wait, but I really think some of the beginning could be trimmed a bit without affecting the story.
I'm also not a fan of the "turn" the story takes with regard to Lea and Les. I can't really say more without spoilers, but it just seemed a bit like Ahiers took the easy way out.
Assassin's Heart introduces another kick-ass female assassin, which seem to be prevalent in recent YA fiction. I haven't got enough of these books yet, so Assassin's Heart is a worthy addition to the genre. I believe this is a stand alone, or at least it reads like one, given there is actually an ending to the story. I greatly appreciated that.
While I had some problems with the story, I am still excited to introduce my students to Assassin's Heart. I think there will be a lot of fans.
Published by HarperTeen, February 2, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
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