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.)
From the Publisher
An electrifying debut that captivated me from the first nail-biting chapter. Spellbinding!” — Gennifer Albin, New York Times bestselling author
“Love, death, family—and vengeance. This gripping fantasy thriller will keep you turning the pages all night long.” — Laura Ruby, author of the Printz Award-winning Bone Gap
“A lavishly constructed fantasy world with an intricate society.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Equal parts adventure, romance, and politics, Ahiers’ first novel is astonishingly good. This is a unique twist on a love story, and the exciting Godfather-esque plotline adds layers of intrigue. Fans of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassins series will snatch this one up in a heartbeat. — Booklist (starred review)
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. — Publishers Weekly
An electrifying debut that captivated me from the first nail-biting chapter. Spellbinding!
Booklist (starred review)
Equal parts adventure, romance, and politics, Ahiers’ first novel is astonishingly good. This is a unique twist on a love story, and the exciting Godfather-esque plotline adds layers of intrigue. Fans of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassins series will snatch this one up in a heartbeat.
Love, death, family—and vengeance. This gripping fantasy thriller will keep you turning the pages all night long.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In the kingdom of Lovero, Lea Saldana belongs to the First Family of assassins. The nine Families of "clippers" are hired throughout the kingdom to kill in the name of the goddess Safraella. Lea keeps her relationship with Val, a member of the Da Vias Family, a secret. She knows her Family would not approve, but she can't seem to help herself. One night, she is betrayed and her Family is murdered. Lea must flee the only home she's ever known before the Da Vias realize they missed a Saldana. She discovers her estranged uncle is still alive and sets off to find him in order to avenge her Family and destroy the Da Vias. Along the way, she discovers a place and a mission all her own. The action and adventure packed into this first-person narrative will keep the pages turning, although the pace slows as Lea gets her bearings in a new city. The secondary characters are developed enough to be distinctive, and Lea's convictions and determination will keep fans of strong female leads rooting for her. The familiar elements of fantasy are all evident here. VERDICT Recommend to those who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and love stories; a first purchase.—Natalie Struecker, Atlantic Public Library, IA
MARCH 2016 - AudioFile
Narrator Khristine Hvam captures the protagonist’s emotional journey in this fantasy involving a teenager who is determined to avenge the slaughter of her family. Lea Saldana and her family are clippers: hired assassins whose murders are sanctioned by the king as a form of worship to the goddess Safraella. In a bid for power, Lea’s family is murdered by rival clippers. In one breathlessly narrated sequence after another, Lea escapes only to be pursued by both assassins and violent ghosts as she travels to seek the aid of her exiled uncle. Slight variations distinguish the many male characters, but the story is Lea’s, and Hvam’s expressive narration is at its best when capturing the young woman’s anguish and resolve. E.C. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
A betrayed teenage assassin seeks revenge against her family's murderers. In a lavishly constructed fantasy world with an intricate society of religious assassins, murder's legal—provided it's committed by a clipper, a member of an elite assassin Family, as worship of the goddess of death and resurrection. Oleander "Lea" Saldana, of the Saldana Family, is secretly seeing Val, a member of the Saldanas' nemesis Family, the Da Vias. When a surprise attack on her home leaves Lea the last member of her Family standing, she knows whom to blame: the Da Vias, Val, and herself. On the run from the Da Vias—who know a Saldana escaped—Lea must brave rival clippers and the equally deadly angry ghosts outside the city wall in order to find the other remaining Saldana: her uncle Marcello. He's been long exiled for some mysterious incident that involved the murder of his uncle (the Family head), and that is also the source of the Da Vias' rage. The worldbuilding—especially the story's internal rules governing ghosts and the way the worship of different gods shapes each country—is smarter than the story's protagonist, whose baffling decisions are plot-driven. Too, the exposition seems not to trust readers' memories. The pace limps along through repetitive prose and frequent reminders as Lea slowly makes progress, especially romantically (predictable but sweet). The final act's twists show more life than the rest of the book. It's a nifty premise, but the execution doesn't live up to it. (Fantasy. 12-16)