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As readers, we do a lot of things that most people would consider weird. We get overly invested in the lives of fictional characters. We spend hours inside, with nothing to entertain us but words on a page. We’re willing to weigh down our luggage with extra books so that we know we’ll have enough to read.

But the one “weird” thing I want to bring your attention to today is our craving for tension. Sure, we want that tension to be transferred to us through the pages of a book, not the people around us, but even so. We want to see characters get hurt, face obstacles they can’t overcome, and maybe even die.

It’s enough to make anyone question if we’re terrible people, actually, but that’s not the point of this post.

No, my point is that if you’re feeling that craving, I know exactly what book to give you: Assassin’s Heart, by Sarah Ahiers.

Lea Saldana’s purpose in life has always been clear: clip the lives of Safraella’s followers, so that they can be born into a better life. As one of the nine Families to fill this role, the Saldanas hold the fear and respect of their country. But all of that is lost one night when the Saldana home is burned to the ground, killing everyone inside and leaving Lea to seek revenge against the Family that took everything from her.

Doesn’t that just scream pain, drama, and tension to you? Assassins, murder, revenge… it’s all in Assassin’s Heart, along with a little romance and humour to balance things out. It made for a book filled with twists I wasn’t expecting, and it kept me on my toes all the way through. That’s not an easy task, which is why I appreciate it so much when it happens.

Along with the level of tension, I also really enjoyed the world this novel is set in. It’s different from ours, and certainly unique. It’s a place where the ghosts are more dangerous than the people, and a paid assassination is a respected livelihood. And because of Safraella, one of the land’s most worshiped Gods, death is seen as both something to be feared and desired. It’s exactly the kind of world and inhabitants I loved learning about.

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.