cover image Assassin’s Heart

Assassin’s Heart

Sarah Ahiers. HarperTeen, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-236378-7

A young assassin seeks vengeance for the slaughter of her family in Ahiers’s menacing, magic-laced debut. In Lovero, murder is legal if committed by a “clipper” of one of the controlling families, who kill in the name of the goddess Safraella. Seventeen-year-old Oleander “Lea” Saldana is an assassin for her powerful family, and she’s in a forbidden relationship with Valentino “Val” Da Via, an assassin for a rival family. One night, Lea’s family is killed by the Da Vias in a bid for power, and Lea must reevaluate everything she knows about Val. Grief-stricken at the betrayal and set on revenge, she pleads for help from the king; at his refusal she sets off across the dead plains, hoping to find her exiled Uncle Marcello. She soon meets an aspiring clipper named Les, who turns her plans, and her heart, upside down. Ahiers’s Romeo and Juliet–inspired world of gods, angry ghosts, and assassins is darkly lush, and Lea’s voice is strong and pragmatic, making for a stylish and rich read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)