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  • A tale we've heard too many times

    Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Young Readers Group, and Melissa de la Cruz for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review of The Queen’s Assassin. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy. First I have to say I didn’t dislike it as much as everyone else seems to be saying, based on their reviews. Now, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t take it so personally when it wasn’t what I was hoping for. First, let me say what a fan I am of Melissa de la Cruz. She is an excellent writer. I think the issue with this is mostly the content. You have very familiar tropes with predictable outcomes and it just doesn’t make for an exciting story. Characters aren’t fully fleshed out and the romance seems forced. I do think it is hilarious that people object to the romance seemingly coming out of nowhere when literally every fairy tale, kids story, etc. all have the two people falling in love from nothing. But hey, if this is now a sign that we are fed up with this and want our romance storylines to be better, I’m all for that. The world was interesting, but for me, not enough was done with this. There was magic all over the land. The king decided that magic shouldn’t be for everyone, and wrote all the magic down in these special scrolls. The world became four different factions who went to war with each other. A nice king finally came into power but got killed in a battle. His queen demands a blood oath of her protector, basically binding him and all his descendants to find the scrolls or die trying. Hence Cal is the son and honor bound to find the scrolls. He is the queen’s assassin and is determined to not get married or have kids because he doesn’t want to pass down what he views as a curse. The queen has a daughter and was very concerned with her safety. She sends her to the forest to grow up with her two aunts. The girl doesn’t know she is a princess but she knows that she must go to court one day and fulfill family obligations like get married and have kids. She wants to be a queen’s assassin more than anything. Circumstances end up that the two crazy kids end up on the road to find the scrolls. Cal thinks he is training the girl, Shadow, to be his apprentice. They have the usual push pull relationship of “I Hate You” “I Love You” and finally uncover a sinister plot for the kingdom. So the world had all kinds of potential. There are assassins, magic, things that repel magic, hidden identities, royalty, but it was really light on all the fantasy elements. The romance was manufactured and therefore didn’t come across the page as well as it could. I’m also not so interested in this trope as it has been overdone and I’m not a fan when the females have no agency. The ending was godawful. I’m not sure if it was rushed but there was a lot of information squished into the last bit. The warring factions could have been introduced earlier and would have made a more interesting story. But the actual ending betrayed all of the characters’ earlier tenets. I really didn’t understand it at all. There is to be a second book. If, somehow, this weird ending is justified in the sequel, then maybe. But you run the risk of no one picking up the second if the first one isn’t enjoyed. There was potential, it just didn’t live up to it in my opinion. But, I wasn’t as turned off as everyone else seemed to be. I was happy to keep reading and finish it. But again, that ending - whew!

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    35 person found this review helpful

    35 people found this review helpful

    35 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Romance vs Assassins

    A boy who is trained in the art of death, sent to kill the enemies of the Queen of the Kingdom and a girl who appears as nothing more than a country girl but has been training to become apart of the Guild for years. They embark on a journey to save their kingdom from another magical war and on the way encounter friendship, deception, love betrayal and that's just between the two of them. ➽ Cal - The Queen's Assassin due to a blood oath passed from his father to him. He serves the Queen well and is accomplished in the Guild. One fatal error lands him in hot water with the general public though and he is sent to Deeria prison on a top secret mission. The kingdom of Montrice is thought to be aiding the Aphrasian uprising and it's up to him to figure out who. The stakes are high and if caught the Queen will not come to his aid. ➽ Shadow - A country girl who lives in the outskirts of the kingdom with her adoptive aunts who are Guild members like her mother, who she rarely sees due to her work at the palace. She wants nothing more than to be a Guild member, a top assassin like Caldon Holt, but her mother has other plans for her at court. While out exploring the Aphrasian Abbey one day she discovers they are once more at large and is witness to Cal's crime against the kingdom. He is sent to the top prison for his actions, which Shadow deems cruel since he was only saving her. To repay his actions and make her own dreams come true, she sets out to Deersia to help Cal escape and become his apprentice. The Queen's Assassin was odd for lack of a better term. It felt like an attempt at a debut novel, someone just getting into writing (no offense to debut authors I've read some of the best novels from debut authors). The book is told in a dual-POV, which I usually love because it's nice to know how both characters feel or what they're thinking. That being said Shadow's POV is in first person while Cal's is in third person? It kind of felt like two different books. It was jarring and made it very hard to get into the book. I've seen multiple reviews where the pacing was described as an issue, but I didn't have any problems with it. There were action scenes where there needed to be and there were quite a few slow moments, but they're on a top secret mission, there is bound to be a ton of reconnaissance. The information they found did seem to fall right into their laps though. I'd say it was more spy than assassin. There was a lack of killing and blood shed for an assassin novel. The romance had the priority here, which is fine but it should have been marketed as a romance then versus an assassin fantasy novel. The romance was front and center for the entirety of this novel. There is no hate to love trope here, but instead Cal always admires Shadow and her skills which I appreciated. It was a bit of insta-love, but I thought they had good chemistry. They were constantly teasing one another, both stubborn as hell with how they felt. They each had their own missions that held no room for love, which just caused more tension. They had some steamy moments, but it was a lot of innocent and jealous moments as well. I found Cal and Shadow endearing, I stayed for the romance plot and their interactions which I thoroughly enjoyed. The romance plot was strong while the rest of the story seemed to fall apart. The main plot of The Queen's Assassin is supposedly the Aphrasian uprising, a group of people with extra special magic hidden away from the rest of the world. They are out to kill the Queen and Princess, the why is unknown, and have a foothold in the Queens' home kingdom of Montrice. The Aphrasians need to be stopped before they rise again and start another war. We really don't know anything about the magic they wield, how it is different than that which Shadow wields, or what the scrolls they hide contain. The magic system is not explained at all. No clue how it works. There's also some super special family line that is important but I'm unsure why. Also, were the Aphrasians bad people? Did they hurt people beyond killing the King in a war he declared? Unknown. Maybe that will be the focus of the second book, but I felt like, beyond the info-dump journal entries which sucked to get through and were the only parts that explained anything important, it should have been more of a focus. There was a plot twist at the end that I saw coming from miles away, but it still managed to trip me up. I'd guessed it within the first few pages on the novel, a secret about Shadow, that I was unsure if she knew or not. Cruz did a good job making a predictable twist not so predictable if that makes sense. I don't want to give spoilers or anything though so I'm cutting myself off there. Overall while I was unimpressed with a lot of the book, I enjoyed the romance and really liked Cal and Shadow. There is a second book, since this is a duology, but I think the romance portion was sufficiently wrapped up at the end of this book and I'm

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    12 person found this review helpful

    12 people found this review helpful

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Loved it and can't wait for the sequel!

    The Queen’s Assassin is a YA fantasy novel set in the fictional country of Renovia. Caledon Holt is the queen’s assassin, bound to her through a blood vow, and used to fulfill an impossible task. When he murders a traitorous prince to protect a farm girl, the queen sends him to a notorious prison to await instruction. Shadow, the girl Caledon saved, witnesses his transportation to the prison and sets out to free him. From there the two set out on a dangerous journey to protect the kingdom, and unveil the traitors. As the two grow closer, they begin to unravel a deep web of lies that threaten to destroy everything. At first, I found the Queen’s Assassin difficult to follow. There is quite a bit of world-building and similar-sounding characters and families to keep track of. I think I read the prologue twice because it was so dense with content. Once I caught up, I found this to be a very quick and propulsive read. It alternates perspective between Caledon and Shadow, with only Shadow’s perspective being written in the first person. I loved both Cal and Shadow, as well as their relationship. I had never read anything by Melissa De La Cruz before this, but this certainly will not be my last! I’ve heard rumors that this is just the first in the series and I can’t wait for the next one if that’s true! Thanks to BookishFirst and Penguin Teen for the review copy!

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Liked a lot

    This was my first time reading a book by this author and I’m really glad that I did! I loved the concept of this book as it focuses on a female character who presents as willful, brave, determined, and appropriately flawed. She is definitely not a sympathetic character, as is the queen’s assassin, who initially presents as a bit of a rigid, unhumorous trope. However, the author continues to develop and flesh out both characters fully and makes this story heavily character-driven, which is really the type of story I can sink my teeth into best. And yet, the story is also fast-paced with enough external obstacles and twists to keep the reader engaged in the story’s plot. I highly recommend this book and author and can’t wait to read more of her work!

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    0 person found this review helpful

    0 people found this review helpful

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  • Fantasy/romance for the younger YA reader

    The Queen's Assassin is a fantasy romance geared toward the younger YA reader. It is told from the first person perspective of Shadow, who has grown up with her aunts and wants to join the Guild, an association of assassins and spies, and the third person perspective of Cal, the Queen of Renovia's assassin, dangerous, feared and highly trained. When Shadow is told she has to serve as a lady of the court to fulfil her duty, she rebels, runs away and liberates Cal, who has been imprisoned. She tells him the Queen has ordered her to become his apprentice. Together they work undercover in a neighboring kingdom to identify a dangerous enemy of Renovia. The story and characters were enjoyable, but I wish there had been less emphasis on the romance and more on the magic system. It was good, but not great.

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    0 person found this review helpful

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