Coven Chat: Empire of Storms

28260587

Happy Halloween, witches! Today we’re having our discussion of Sarah J. Maas’ Empire of Storms. Remember that in a Coven Chat we spoil and spoil and spoil. Don’t read on if you aren’t caught up on the series.

Allison: First off, let me say that I found Empire of Storms just as addictive and completely engrossing as all of the books in this series. I’m actually really excited to read it again. I felt like a lot of the action in previous books is starting to come together in EoS in a deeper way.

Alyssa: This series is really addictive and I reread it every year when a new book comes out. I can’t help myself! I love that each additional book is much more expansive in its worldbuilding and cast of characters, and that QoS and EoS reintroduced us to some of the characters from The Assassin’s Blade.

Nicola: Yes, agreed. I noticed a shift in QoS when characters from the novellas like Lysandra and Arobynn started appearing, and even more so in this book with Ansel’s return and the appearance of the Silent Assassins. It really feels like all those story threads from the first few books in the series are being drawn together towards the ending, and I love it.

Speaking of endings, can we talk about the end of this book for a second? I was really not expecting any of it, and I stayed up late because I just HAD to finish it – then I couldn’t sleep because I was fretting about Aelin. Seriously, that ending was one of the most shocking I’ve read in a long time.

Allison: I really didn’t expect the ending at all, but it was clear that Aelin did! I don’t know what I was expecting. I mean, I think we knew that some kind of showdown was coming between Maeve and Aelin, but I thought that perhaps Maeve would offer a bargain of some kind for assistance in the war.

I think that Maas started putting some serious distance between us and Aelin in this book to support the ending and the next book, which I assume will rely heavily on the characters she built up in this storyline, like Lysandra, Aedion and the witches. I loved the deeper characterization of Manon and the Thirteen in this book. I’m actually hoping that we get some novellas about the witches, or possibly a spinoff series.

Alyssa: Yes, I’d love a spinoff series or novellas about the witches! Manon and the Thirteen are some of my favorite characters, and they really help sustain this series. While I’m fond of the characters in Aelin’s inner circle that dominate the first few books, I really like that HoF, QoS and EoS introduce us to new characters who exist outside of Aelin’s sphere of influence.

Nicola: I wasn’t sure about Manon in HoF, but as the series has progressed she’s really grown on me, and I really like the relationship between her and the Thirteen. The fact that they’re more loyal to each other than the Ironteeth as a group speaks volumes about their relationship, and I find it fascinating that Asterin and the others show such loyalty to Manon, when the Ironteeth witches are, supposedly, cold-hearted and cruel. They’re much more human than they would like to think.

Allison: I think it will be interesting to see how the reveal that the Ironteeth clan-leaders have been manipulating their offspring to be so ruthless in coming books. It’s clear that the Thirteen are just as “emotional” as Manon, so we can’t necessarily dismiss her feelings as purely being due to her heritage.

Alyssa: I love Manon’s identity as half Ironteeth, half Crochan, and that she experiences so much character growth in HoF, QoS and EoS. I love that she’s complex and conflicted; that she upholds as well as questions her beliefs and personality traits, since she stays cold-hearted and ruthless but she also begins to value hope and love above all else…her humanity more than her upbringing as a monster. Manon will likely have a very significant role in the final book, now that she’s discovered she’s the Crochan Queen, and I can’t wait to see that storyline play out. She may be my favorite character now.  

Allison: Speaking of favorite characters: Lysandra!!! I love her so, so much. There’s this scene where she’s in her snow leopard form and she’s resting her head in Aelin’s lap and I was just so damn happy. I love that she is so fierce and so loyal and that she and Aelin have all these secret machinations.

Nicola: Yes! I love Lysandra. She’s fast becoming my favourite character. She’s just so determined and protective and just damn perfect. And I love how Aelin starts to really trust her in this book. Aelin’s always had issues with things like sharing power, trusting women and general jealousy, and now she’s at the point where she trusts Lysandra to pretend to be her for the rest of her life. It’s a HUGE bit of character development for Aelin, and it shows how different Lysandra is from the vain, shallow courtesan Aelin once believed her to be.

Alyssa: I love Lysandra and her romance with Aedion too! It’s almost like she’s become the heroine of this series (along with Manon, perhaps). And I don’t get irritated with her in the same way that I sometimes get irritated with Aelin. I’m curious to see what happens when she plays Aelin!

Allison: Aedion, please forgive Lysandra right away! Lysandra, please forgive Aedion back for being a leetle too obsessed with his cousin… I’m also curious to see how Lysandra “plays” Aelin.

I’m thrilled to see Lysandra’s character get more time and energy, but I admit was frustrated by what’s happening with Rowan’s character in this book. I was a huge fan of Rowan in HoF, but he hasn’t developed much beyond stoic-Fae-male and that’s a little bothersome for me. He’s SO objectified! I mean, I want to defend Rowan here and say all the things that I’d say if a female character was getting this kind of treatment.

Alyssa: Yes. Even though I think Rowan might be the best “mate” for Aelin, he is a less interesting character in QoS and EoS than he was in HoF. He loses some of his depth when he falls in love with Aelin, and he is objectified!  I feel like Rowan’s intense (obsessive? possessive?) love for Aelin is his whole identity now. Honestly, I’ve sort of lost interest in Aelin’s love story in this series and I’m more invested in the secondary characters’ relationships: Lysandra/Aedion, Manon/Dorian, etc. I actually find their relationships more romantic than Aelin and Rowan’s–even if they are “mates.”

Allison: I’m conflicted about the “mating” conceit that SJM has developed for both her series. It sometimes creates an excuse for toxic masculinity that doesn’t always get checked. Some of it feels cheap alongside the amazing depth that she’s created for her female characters.

Nicola: I’ve been re-reading the series since reading EoS, and while reading the novellas something struck me: What does Aelin being Rowan’s mate mean for Celaena/Sam?

Allison: Ohhhh, I hadn’t even thought of that.

Nicola: I feel like the notion that she’s fated to be with Rowan cheapens her first love, as though the future she and Sam imagined could never have materialised. And what about Rowan’s supposed mate? I really hope that this is explored in the last book. Weirdly, I also feel like Rhys gets way more character development, even though we don’t see his POV in the ACOTAR books.

Allison: I completely agree with you about Rhys. I just re-read ACOTAR and ACOMAF and he sort of “corrects” some of that toxic masculinity, but there’s that same attitude of “Fae males are just like that” that I’m not reacting to well.

Alyssa: I agree. What’s supposed to be a romantic conceit is getting annoying and problematic for the reasons you both mention. Also, “mating” seems more unnecessary and confusing in this series than in ACOTAR.

Allison: Completely. In ACOTAR it takes center stage because ACOTAR is up front a more emotional book, Feyre’s relationships are very important.

Alyssa: I suppose an argument in favor of the “mating” conceit is that it’s important considering they are Fae and immortal. But I find the toxic masculinity problematic, too. It does seem like these books argue that all of that behavior is not just normal, but something we should desire. I wonder if that’s a problem with the Fae/vampire trope in general?

Allison: Yeah, I feel that way too. I think in ACOTAR there is a lot of condemnation for the extreme that it goes to. Even in the first book, you can see the seeds for Tamlin being so possessive and Rhys’ commitment to Feyre’s freedom (and fighting his nature) is the antidote. I think the mating concept feels out of place and kind of confusing in this series though.

Alyssa: It’s a bit tacked on that we find out near the end of EoS that Aelin has been keeping secret her realization that Rowan is her mate. But she kept a lot of secrets from Rowan and everyone else in EoS. Honestly, I found that secret and some of the other reveals slightly irksome and perhaps too convenient.

Nicola: Aelin keeping secrets was something that didn’t sit right with me, not because it’s not in-character (it is), but because she used to be the reader’s main POV character, and now she’s keeping secrets from us. I’m not against the whole ‘trick-the-reader’ thing (I love it in Six of Crows), but I don’t think it works when the character used to be the main POV character and now there are a lot of things kept secret from the audience.

Alyssa: Yes, that’s a really great point. I think that’s why Aelin’s keeping secrets didn’t quite work for me as well.

Allison: And it wasn’t just a couple of things, but an entire plotline that we don’t get to see and that isn’t really even hinted at. I like it when we get to know that something is going on, but just not what exactly. I felt like there was a big shift in tone in this book in a lot of ways.

I’m just going to say it: the sex didn’t work for me in this book. I’m all about there being sex in YA books, I guess I’m just not sure how I feel about it being erotica. There’s something about an adult writer, writing this kind of stuff for teenagers that makes me really uncomfortable. Perhaps I’m a bit prudish.

Alyssa: Yes, while Maas’s depictions of sex have always been more mature than most authors of YA, it becomes even more adult in this book. It’s strange because before I reread HoF and QoS, I thought that Aelin and Rowan had already had sex; but they don’t have sex until the middle of EoS! So in some ways, the fact that Aelin and Rowan wait is typical YA. But, the erotica in EoS and Maas’s books in general (even when the characters are not in fact having sex) makes the YA categorization problematic. I’m also a bit uncomfortable with Maas’s books being for teens (14 and up).

Allison: I wasn’t disturbed by this at all in ACOTAR. It’s clear from the beginning that the content is much more mature in that way, but I feel really uneasy about the way it’s developing in this book.

Nicola: It’s made me uncomfortable, too, especially when I consider just how uncomfortable I would have been to read that stuff as a teenager. I was a pretty prudish teen, so my experience is by no means typical for teenagers, but reading sex scenes like that would have really upset me a book so far into a much-loved series simply because at the age I started reading books like ToG I wasn’t emotionally ready for books like EoS.

And IMO it’s not just sex, but violence as well. It’s always been a very violent series, of course, considering the main character is an assassin and the story opens in a death camp, but in earlier books it was less graphic and more implied. For instance, there’s a scene in TOG when one of the competitors has been disemboweled. It’s a horror-filled scene (especially when Celaena points out that the man’s tendons had been severed so he had to lie there watching the creature sharpen its claws before he died), but it’s nowhere near the description of one man screaming as the creatures in EoS disembowel him.

Allison: I have to say that for me, this book is absolutely not YA, which is troublesome, given that it’s the fifth book in this series. I feel like this was not a great time for such a dramatic shift in content. I’m an adult reader, so my perspective is different, but I don’t love thinking about how teen readers might perceive this shift.

Nicola: Yes, I agree. I think a lot of teen readers would just take it in their stride, but for others this book will be the turning point where the series is no longer something they feel comfortable reading, which I guess isn’t really fair to them when it’s so late in the series.

Alyssa: I’m not sure if this is true or merely speculation, but I’ve seen claims online that the series has transitioned from YA to New Adult with Empire of Storms.  But, whether EoS is still officially YA or not, I wonder if teens are less shocked by this shift than we might think since they have likely already read ACOTAR and might want and expect Rowan and Aelin to have a more erotic relationship. And those fans that ship Chaol might have cared more about the shift with HoF to Rowan as Aelin’s love interest. It’s almost like ACOTAR attempts to bridge the shift between the first and second half of the series.

Allison: This has me thinking about the way that the Harry Potter books got more and more intense as the characters grew out of middle grade age and into YA. Perhaps something similar is happening here? Aelin is aging out of a YA audience (she’s 19 now), so the books are too?

J.K. Rowling caught a lot of flak for that while the Harry Potter series was still being written, for the darkness and violence. I remember that while the last few books were coming out that people were angry that as the characters aged so did the maturity, and Rowling’s response was that she believed her readers were aging as well and could handle it. I think that on one hand, that’s true in a real time perspective, but on the other hand, when the books are complete, who is the audience for a series that undergoes that kind of dramatic transformation?

Nicola: I was thinking about Harry Potter, too. I was 9 when I started reading the series, and 17 when the final book came out, so I very much grew up with the series and likely would have stopped reading altogether if the later books were at the same maturity level as the earlier ones.

What I also find interesting is that Maas originally wrote ToG as an adult fantasy novel, and it was her agent (or publisher?) who suggested she market it as YA. So it’s possible she had always intended to incorporate more mature elements later on in the series.

Allison: That’s interesting. I think it will be interesting to see where the series heads next. I know we’re all looking forward to the next book… AND THAT CHAOL NOVELLA! Thanks so much for joining us. Our next Coven Chat will be about Crooked Kingdom in November.

 

Advertisements

What’s Ahead: Coven Chat

Most of what I’ll be reading over the next few months is for our Coven Chat discussion posts, so I figured now’s a good time to announce what we’ll be talking about as a group in August through October.

The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater:  I’ve been reading (and re-reading) this series for five years now, so Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah, Blue, and the women of 300 Fox Way are some of my most beloved characters. I’ve just started The Raven King (#4), after revisiting The Raven Boys (#1), The Dream Thieves (#2) and Blue Lily, Lily Blue (#3), and I can’t wait to find out how this series ends.

The Remnant Chronicles, by Mary E Pearson: Read The Kiss of Deception (#1) and The Heart of Betrayal (#2) if you haven’t already because The Beauty of Darkness (#3) is out now.

 

 

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2), by Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes (#1) was one of our favorite 2015 releases and we’re so excited for its sequel.

We’re only a month away from perhaps our most-anticipated release: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), by Sarah J Maas. You must know by now that Sarah’s books (Throne of Glass (#1), Crown of Midnight (#2), Assassin’s Blade (#.5), Heir of Fire (#3), Queen of Shadows (#4), and Empire of Storms (#5), as well as A Court of Thorns and Roses (#1) and A Court of Mist and Fury (#2)), are our favorites to discuss! We’ve chatted about them here and here and here.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #1), by Leigh Bardugo: Last year we had a blast discussing Six of Crows and we’re really looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Snow Like Ashes series, by Sara Raasch: Another fabulous fantasy series is coming to an end with the release of Frost Like Night (#3) next month.

The Young Elites series, by Marie Lu: Adelina is my favorite villainous protagonist (see my post) and I can’t wait to find out how her story ends in The Midnight Star (#3).

 

Have you read these series? Which books are you looking forward to the most? 

 


A Court of Thorns and Roses

16096824If you’re a lover of fantasy, faeries and romance, you’ve probably heard of Sarah J. Maas’ adult series A Court of Thorns and Roses. If not, and you are a fan of the previously mentioned things, you will not be disappointed in this series. Nicola, Alyssa and I discussed the first book shortly after its release and plan to discuss A Court of Mist and Fury later this week.

Fans of Maas’ other series (Throne of Glass) will enjoy many of the similarities between the series: fantastic heroines, loads of magic and fantastic worldbuilding, as well as a racing, almost addictive pace. However, while Throne of Glass is a series that has political drama and adventure at its core, with a side of romance, A Court of Thorns and Roses is definitely more adult and more overtly focused on romance. In terms of sexiness and violence, ACOTAR is categorically NOT a young adult series.

Even though the violence is darker and the sexiness is more explicit, these aren’t books that are primarily focused on getting to the juicy bits. The plot lines of both published books are robust and engrossing. Feyre, the series’ main character, is a human in a world that fears the Fae kingdom at its borders. When Feyre accidentally kills a Fae warrior, she is summoned to serve penance at the estate of a Fae lord, Tamlin. Once there, Feyre is drawn into a centuries old conflict between different Fae forces, which periodically has pulled humans into the fray.

Feyre falls hard for Tamlin, and even though the story is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Tamlin is anything but beastly. I’ll admit, the first half of the first book reads a bit more like a more traditional supernatural romance, but the second half complicates things completely. Everything you think you know is overturned and all of the series characters’ arcs become deliciously complex. I’m happy to say that trend continues into ACOMAF.

As a main character, Feyre is multi-faceted in a way that makes her easy to identify with. The books are told through a first-person POV and I find it pretty easy to be in her head. Feyre loves big, even when she has difficult feelings and I think that big heartedness, combined with some serious badassery is what makes me like her so much. Maas doesn’t sacrifice Feyre’s emotions for her ability to kick ass.

Part of what I love about this series is that is merges genres that I love seamlessly and satisfyingly, but if you’re looking for just one or the other, this might not please you. ACOTAR has strong roots in romance, with sexy interludes that will get your pulse racing and romances rooted in deep, abiding emotions. But it’s also a well built fantasy, with a mesmerizing worldview and engrossing political conflict.

One of my favorite things about what Sarah J Maas has started to do with ACOTAR is combine genres in a way that’s really pleasing for female readers. She allows Feyre to be wholly feminine, sexual and powerful, as well as deal with heavy topics like abuse, PTSD, and heartbreak without compromising her story. Feyre’s tribulations aren’t plot devices to make you like her or care about her more, they’re an integral part of the story, and who Feyre is at the beginning and who she’s becoming.

Feyre can be sexual and romantic. She is self aware enough to wonder about who her feelings make her and how her decisions affect others. Honestly, Maas’ Throne of Glass series made me admire her as a storyteller, but ACOTAR makes me admire her as a woman. Perhaps I identify with Feyre in a lot of ways, so I feel more strongly about this than I would otherwise, but I love the way this series is going and I hope you will too. Fans of Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty will enjoy this one.

Alyssa, Nicola and I are wrapping up our discussion of A Court of Mist and Fury as I write this and we’ll be sharing with you on Friday. Cheers!

Allison Carr Waechter will always root for the bad boy with a heart of gold and the broken-hearted heroine.


Interview With Sara McCormick

Today I’m interviewing Sara McCormick, owner of Bella deLuna Designs and her new shop Liber deStella. Sara lives in North Carolina with four cat children and a husband who thankfully loves math so she doesn’t have to. Like me, she gets distracted by shiny things. 

Sara and I met through a secret society for witches who love tea. We had a quick connection based on our love of the same kinds of magical books. When Sara opened Liber deStelltog candle (3 of 3)a, I knew I had to interview her for CBC, because how could I not share the deets on someone making handmade items based on the books we all love? Brew some tea, pull up a cat and join me and Sara for a chat…

Allison: Sara, I’m so happy you could talk with me today about books and your fantastic work. I was so delighted to find out that we read so much of the same stuff! What’re you reading right now and I know you always have a TBR pile going, so what do you plan to read next?

Sara: I’m so glad to be able to chat with you! I never turn down an opportunity to talk about books! Right now I’m reading Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. I’m only a couple of chapters in, so I’m still getting a sense of the book, but I’ve heard so many great things about it.

Next up on my TBR pile I’ve got Flamecaster, The Glittering Court and The Shadow Queen. I’m waiting for The Star-Touched Queen and A Court of Mist and Fury to come out and as soon as they do, they’ll go to the top of the list.

Allison: I loved Lady Midnight! We’re right in the middle of our Shadowhunters universe weeks and we’ll be talking about Lady Midnight later this week! Have you read the other series Cassandra Clare has written?

Sara: I have! It’s crazy to see all the fanfare the Shadowhunter world is getting right now with the new TV show and everything. I discovered the books in 2009, just when City of Glass came out. I vividly remember curled up in a blanket pile for days reading the first three books, and falling in love with the world Clare had built. City of Bones is still my favorite.

Allison: It’s still my fwild dragonfly bracelet_lobster clasp (1 of 3)avorite too. I think Lady Midnight has that same feel of falling into something cool and new (even though the first half of the book does a lot of looking back). I think it’s something about the vivid role LA plays in setting the stage. New York was just as captivating in The Mortal Instruments. Clare has a way of making things feel real.

I also have The Star-Touched Queen (which I just got my hands on today!) and A Court of Mist and Fury on my list of can’t-wait-to-reads. What’s your favorite new book in the last few months? I confess I’m shamelessly looking for book recommendations!  

Sara: Without a doubt The Mirror King (the sequel to The Orphan Queen) and The Wrath and the Dawn. Both books I read in one sitting. I’ve already created a candle based on The Wrath and the Dawn, and I’ve got a necklace in the works based on The Mirror King. That’s pretty much how you know I absolutely fell in love with a book, I created something inspired by it.

Allison: How fortuitous! I’m reading The Orphan Queen right now. It’s very intriguing so far. I’m enjoying the slow reveal of Meadows’ system of magic. Speaking of new pieces, you just opened Liber deStella as a sister shop to Bella deLuna. How did you get your start selling handmade goods?

Sara: Oh, wow. Well, I’ve always created things, and actually in high school really go into making jewelry, candles and even the photography, but it wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started to look at it as a job. Long story short, my Mom was an artist, a painter, and when she passed away, I just remember standing in her art studio and having this epiphany that I was trying to force myself into the 9-5 desk job box and making myself pretty miserable while doing it. I saw all this art around me my Mom had created and knew I wanted the same thing, to live my life creating.

Allison: That makes so much sense to me, and it’s really inspiring. What made you want to create a shop just for cool book related goods?

mount of adamant wrath and the dawn candle (2 of 3)Sara: There started to feel like there was a divide in my original shop, Bella deLuna Designs. I knew I was heading into more of a feel of metaphysical shop there, with the gemstones and ritual candles I had been working on, and my book jewelry didn’t feel as at home there anymore. Plus, I knew I had these book inspired candles in the pipeline that really would feel out of place. The two shops are really catering to two different audiences, and I felt that in order to give both the room they need to grow and flourish, that they just needed their own space.

Allison: Luckily, I think there’s a lot of crossover between the metaphysical customers and lovers of the kinds of magical books we both enjoy. What are your favorite pieces thus far?

Sara: Yes, and I’m so happy about that! It has made the process of opening a second shop so much easier than it would have been if there was no crossover at all. And everyone has been super supportive, because there was a little shift where items that used to be in my Bella deLuna shop are no longer there, so I’ve done my best to make sure everyone can find what they’re looking for.

As far as my favorite pieces, I have to include my Outlander dragonfly bracelet, as that was the first book inspired piece I ever created. The Six of Crows necklace is another favorite, as it’s a completely different design than anything I’ve ever done, and I love that it can be worn with anything. But I do have to admit, I’m really obsessed with the book candles right now. I’ve always made notes of scents described in books and how the surrounding landscape shapes the book, so I was really excited to sit down and really do research on how I could create candles that reflected that.

Allison: I just got my Rattle the Stars candle today and it smells amazing. It really does remind me of Celaena. I saw you added a candle for The Wrath and the Dawn to the shop recently, any plans for jewelry inspired by tsix of crows necklace (2 of 4)he book?

Sara: Yes! I’m working on a bracelet inspired by The Wrath and the Dawn right now. I’m hoping to finish it and a few other pieces this week! (Click here to see the finished beauty!

Allison: I need to be saving my pennies… I loved The Wrath and the Dawn. And I already have a strong, strong desire to have that Six of Crows necklace. I love the book so much. For some reason I was a little worried about Leigh Bardugo expanding the Grishaverse, but it blew me away. Yet another series that has me impatiently waiting for the next book…

Sara: I had the same reservations about Six of Crows. Before reading it, I had heard it was from multiple points of view, and for some reason books written in multiple POVs can just rub me the wrong way. If there’s one character’s voice that I don’t like, I don’t like the rest of the book. So I was nervous about Six of Crows, but once I read it I absolutely fell in love.

Allison: I’m with you on the multiple POVs, it can be a risky move. But it turned out to the be thing that kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to get to know all the characters better in the next book. Sara, thank you again for having this fun chat with me today, I’m so blessed to know you.

Sara: Anytime! Thanks so much for inviting me to chat!

Pssst, before you go…Sara writes about the books she loves all the time on her blog. And if you want to see what her cats are up to, follow her on Instagram (or here for Liber deStella related goodness). Biscuit is my particular favorite. Like Twitter best? Follow her here. Facebook more your style? Keep up with Sara here. By the way, you can click on any of the above images to go right to Sara’s shop!

Double psssssst…. We’ll be back later this week for our talk about Lady Midnight and next week we’ll discuss the Shadowhunters universe as a whole!


Winter 2016 YA Fantasy Debut: Assassin’s Heart, by Sarah Ahiers

21421609Attention Throne of Glass fans, there’s a new female assassin in YA fantasy!  Like Celaena Sardothien, Oleander “Lea” Saldana, the seventeen-year-old heroine of Sarah Ahiers’s Assassin’s Heart (the first book in a planned duology), is a kick-ass, mask-wearing, revenge-seeking assassin. But the similarities between Maas’s and Ahiers’s series end here.

Pitched as The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, Ahiers’s debut takes place in a unique, imaginative world–reminiscent of Renaissance Italy–that’s very different from Throne of Glass‘s setting. In the kingdom of Lovero, nine Families are allowed to commit murder as a way to worship Safraella, the goddess of death and resurrection. The most powerful Families–the Saldanas and the Da Vias–are bitter enemies, yet Lea Saldana and Val Da Vias are in a secret relationship. Lea and Val understand, however, that Family loyalty always has precedence over everything else…even love. But Lea still doesn’t expect to be betrayed by Val.

In a surprise attack, the Da Vias murder Lea’s Family, leaving her the only surviving Saldana besides her estranged uncle Marcello. How will she escape the rival Families (the Da Vias, especially) who want to kill her and the murderous angry ghosts that exist in the dead plains and surrounding countries (such as Rennes), beyond the protection of Lovero’s walls? Will Lea find her exiled uncle and convince him to return to Lovero to help her avenge their Family?

High-stakes adventure and romance, along with heart-wrenching guilt, betrayal, and retaliation, make Assassin’s Heart a great choice for Throne of Glass fans.

Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in young adult fiction (and occasionally middle grade and adult). She thanks Edelweiss and HarperCollins for providing her with a digital review copy of Assassin’s Heart, for review purposes only. Please follow her on Tumblr and Twitter.