Assassin’s Heart: Sarah Ahiers

I finished Assassin’s Heart yesterday, and I’m not impressed.

The book started out kind of interesting; the people in this land live and abide by a goddess named Safraella, who endorses murder through the works of assassins called “clippers.” Our protagonist, a young woman named Lea Saldana, is a clipper. These clippers have families, which work kind of the way that mafia families do. There are several separate ones, and the focus in this story is on the rival clans of Saldana and Da Via. The only problem is that Lea’s in love with the Da Via heir, a boy named Valentine (or Val, for short).
Of course, things go horribly wrong because when rival families end up with two kids in love, everyone will die. It’s a given. So in this case, the Da Via family slaughters the Saldanas while they’re sleeping, leaving Lea the one and only, lucky, surviving Saldana. That’s what she thinks, at least, until she realizes that her father’s brother, Uncle Marcus, live in a neighboring town and might be able to help her exact her revenge against the Da Via family.

So the synopsis is really interesting– again, I had hoped for a cruel and bitter antihero kind of protagonist, and Lea almost delivers, actually. She’s pretty ruthless. But there were two things that made me unhappy with this story:

  1. It moves so slowly, oh my god. The first half of the book is her trying to get to this other town. The second half is about her trying to convince her Uncle to help her, while falling in love with his protégé. Finally, you get to the good revenge stuff at the very end.
  2. Ghosts. There are ghosts in this novel? They’re seriously arbitrary and I didn’t understand– at all– what they were supposed to bring to the novel. I felt like they just took away from the story… I couldn’t take it seriously anymore, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, ghosts can be great when written well, and when they fit into the story. In this case, it felt like Ahiers wrote the book and then suddenly decided that, you know what would make this thing better? Ghosts.

It’s really good for a debut novel, which I’m *pretty* sure I read somewhere that it is? But I just couldn’t bring myself to be interested in the story. There are, however, a lot of people who really enjoyed it, so maybe it’s just me being weird.

I’ll list some things that I did like about the book:

  1. Ultimately, I’m glad that Lea didn’t end up with Valentine Da Via because her name would have ended up being “Lea Da Via.”
  2. Lea has a really strong faith in her goddess, which was cool because usually characters’ religions are not usually brought up in mainstream YA literature. She really has a strong belief in the teachings of Safraella and this is a huge basis for her personality.
  3. They left the kiddies alive at the end of the book. Emilie is her elder brother’s (who dies) son, and in the beginning you get a lot of grief-stricken wondering from Lea about how the Da Vias killed Emilie. But they didn’t. And he’s really cute, even if he only shows up for like three pages.

Overall, I don’t think that I personally would recommend this book to anyone, but again… a lot of people liked it. So do with that, what you will.


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