The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz
Publication Date: February 4th 2020
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the country they are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.
Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.
Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.
When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.
*** Note: I received this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to @PRHGlobal for free copy. ***
The Queen’s Assassin was YA Fantasy that revolved around Queen’s secret and her assassin. It was about forbidden magic, romance, royal politics and saving kingdom from incursion and evil mages.
First of all that cover is awesome and so apt. Writing was gripping and addictive from the very beginning. I finished this book in 2 sitting and couldn’t put it down until the end. I loved author’s storytelling ability. World, characters and plot was great. It was narrated from Shadow and Calendon’s perspective. That synopsis says it all.
Worldbuilding was fantastic. Initial chapter gave the overview of world. It told about the history of kingdom Avantine, its rulers, how it was broken into four kingdoms, Renovia, how the sect of evil mages called Aphrasians and secret guild who fought against Aphrasians beside Renovian throne was formed, what was Deian scroll and how it was lost to Aphrasians, how all this lead to the current situation of Renovia, and how important it was to get the Deian scroll to save the kingdom and restore the magic and peace.
I thought it was all I would need to know about the world but as I read more I got to know more about political unrest, rise of Aphrasians, and rumors of incursion by assault on princess Lilac- the sole heir of Renovia. I loved excerpts from the Diean Scroll before beginning of all three sections. It that told the history and origin of magic, how magic came to Avantine and story of Queen Lilliana, regent queen of Renovia. Those were the best characters in the book.
Story was divided in three parts- Renovia, Montrice (Renovia’s neighbouring kingdom) and Assassin and Queen.
First part introduced characters. Queen Lilliana, her assassin- Calendon Holt and Shadow. As soon as I read epilogue I knew who Shadow was. Now that is not really strong for book but I tell you, the scenes were well written it mislead me and made me question what I was so sure about. I was curious to see how much she knew or if she doesn’t when and how she will know.
Shadow was a farm girl living with her aunts who were part of guild and trained her well to be part of guild. It was her dream to be part of guild and to be Caledon’s apprentice. But her mother who was courtier and on higher rank in guild had other plans. When a sudden attack brought her and Caledon together, she was adamant to thwart her mother’s plan, impress Caledon by rescuing him and convince him to take her on his mission. The way she carried out her plan was both reckless and impressive. Most of the time she was headstrong girl who acted like she knew more, eager to prove herself but that put her and Caledon in lot of danger. She wanted to be his apprentice but always took lead defied and argued whatever he said. That made me both laugh and irritated. It’s not like she wasn’t skilled or smart but what’s the meaning of apprentice if you don’t listen to a person you’re supposed to work under? Anyway, her development was good. As she worked with Caledon, she knew being assassin and part of guild is not easy, it required sacrifices and understood its seriousness.
Caledon was great. He was my favorite in the book. Now that might be unpopular as all reviews I read, reader didn’t like Cal and loved Shadow more. He was ruthless, merciless assassin. He obviously was not used to work with somebody and it made him look like arrogant but at the same time he was gentleman, man of word and restraint. Even though he was frustrated by working with Shadow and her suggestion he went along with her whims. I loved his story about his father and mother. He faced lot of pain and grief. His work left him alone and loveless but working with Shadow he experienced friendship, love and companionship.
Second part was about Montrice, its people and tradition, finding out if the nation was involved with Aphrasians. It also showed growing friendship and chemistry between Shadow and Caledon. I loved narration of aristocratic life style, gown and balls in this part.
I liked romance between Shadow and Caledon. They didn’t get along well initially but as they got to know each other, it blossomed into a beautiful flower. I was curious to see how they were going to voice their feelings and if they could commit to a relationship.
This unexpected love and all the feeling came along with it distracted them from their main plan. I was so glad for the turning point and what a turn it was. Many things happened from here till the end of this part. When they finally found about the evil Aphrasian, there was little action and some unexpected revelation.
I knew Shadow was hiding things from Caledon but oh boy, what was revealed in third part was a bit more than what I guessed. Queen’s play and secret was shocking. I liked Shadow’s confession and the way story ended. I definitely sided with Caledon and admired him for his decision but at the same time loved Shadow and how she grew with her responsibility. I can’t wait to see what is to come next in this series.
Why 4 Stars-
Now I haven’t read Sarah J Maas books but I have read stories that have somewhat similar outline. The world was original. I love mages and magic and blood vow, but rest of things was not fresh. Characters, queen’s secret and the end was a tad too predictable.
Overall, it was fast paced, interesting fantasy with addictive writing and refreshing world. It gave same vibes as Children of Blood and Bone while reading this, so if you liked that book, you’ll enjoy this.
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