February 4, 2020

Review: The Queen's Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers


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.

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.


The Queen's Assassin is the first book in a lush new YA fantasy duology that fans are going to love. I've read some of the author's other work, so I knew the writing was going to be fantastic. The description had me a little hesitant because it kind of sounds like a lot of the other books out there right now. And it is - to a point. There are some key points to the plot that are basic for this story archetype, but the author puts her own magic into the book to make it stand out from the rest. I'm glad I decided to give this one a shot because I ended up liking it way more than I thought I would.

The main characters - Shadow and Cal - were both realistic and easy to connect with. They each have positive traits as well as obvious flaws and they both make lots of mistakes. Shadow is headstrong, brave, daring, smart, and determined to make her own fate instead of accepting the one she was born into. Cal is the master assassin to the Queen, which makes his life not his own either. He has to finish a quest - find the scrolls - before the blood oath that binds his family to the royal family can be broken. He also follows the Queen's every order - including getting rid of people who threaten the throne. When Shadow and Cal meet, it's the usual frustration and annoyance with each other, working together for a common goal but barely being able to stand the other one. Which then grows into a beautiful romance as they get to know each other more and experience more obstacles and experiences together on their journey. I normally don't like a strong romantic aspect in a book that's supposed to be about something else because it always feels like the romance part takes over the story and overshadows everything else. I didn't feel this way with this book. The romance was always going to be a part of the story and I felt it was woven into the plot effortlessly and didn't take over the entire story line. The author struck a perfect balance between the two that I really enjoyed.

The writing style is always a big deal for me personally as a reader. I almost always prefer the first person point of view. The great thing about this novel is that it's told from both Shadow's and Cal's perspective. Shadow's part of the book is told from the first person POV with her as the narrator. We get to really know her on a deeply personal level throughout the book and by the end of the story I felt like we were really close friends. We get to see inside her mind - her hopes and fears, dreams, memories, desires, and innermost thoughts. This helped me connect with her immediately from the beginning and only grew throughout the book. Cal's side of the story is told from the third person POV, which I didn't like nearly as much. I loved the fact that the author chose to tell the story from their alternating viewpoints - which was fantastic! - but I think if Cal's part of the story was told in the first person POV as well, it would've been basically perfect. I loved getting to know Cal throughout the story but (again) I wish his part was written in the first person as well so we could really connect with him on the same level as Shadow. 

Although the majority of the book was easy to predicate - which is fine because it wasn't meant to be a mystery - there were some interesting twists I didn't see coming that made things really exciting. There's also political intrigue, secrets, treason, and so much more woven into the story. I will admit that the ending killed me. I guess I didn't realize how deeply I had fallen into this world and connected with these characters until the ending. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt every emotion in my heart. I don't normally physically react to a book, but while reading the ending and after I had finished - I cried. I couldn't help it. I hated the ending because it broke my heart. This is the first book in a series so I'm really hoping that things will change and be the way they should be (in my mind). I hate having to wait so long until the next book releases because I need to know what's going to happen and what's ahead for our heroes. I very highly recommend this book for fans of YA fantasy, romance, and for fans of the author.

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