All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change.
Overall: 2.5/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 2.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 2/5
Review in a Nutshell: This was… disappointing. I had such high hopes- which might have been my own fault- that this book failed to meet. Or really come near.
”Just because it’s a story doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
// Content Warning: Violence, Death, War Themes, Murder, Imprisonment //
Release Date: 2/4/2020
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Page Count: 384
The Queen’s Assassin is the first book in a new fantasy duology by Melissa de la Cruz. It follows two protagonists, one being Caledon Holt, the Queen’s personal assassin, who inherited a blood vow from his father to find a lost magic scroll. The other protagonist is Shadow, a girl who dreams of being an assassin herself, and a member of the Guild like her family. When the two team up on a mission in a neighboring country to root out a plot against the Queen, they find themselves fighting a growing attraction.
“He is the Queen’s Assassin. And no one is safe from his blade.”
Writing & Setting
I love Melissa de la Cruz’s contemporary romances. They’re always cute and entertaining. I also enjoyed Alex & Eliza. When I heard she was writing a high fantasy romance, I was so excited! And I think my excitement is what set me up for failure here. Her writing in this book is okay. It isn’t much different from her other books, but it definitely lacks that fantasy feel. One thing I wasn’t a fan of, however, is the changes in points of view. In Shadow’s chapters, it’s first person, but in Caledon, it’s third. It was a little jarring at first (although eventually I did get used to it).
What could have brought that unique fantasy feeling was the setting- but even that didn’t feel like a fantasy novel. Instead, it felt like a DM’s first Dungeons and Dragons campaign, where they use all the tropes and don’t care to actually flesh out a world. Melissa de la Cruz relied heavily on exposition dumps masquerading as several-page-long historical texts that were dropped randomly throughout the book. Now, those can be done well if used in moderation and the text itself is interesting, but that wasn’t the case here. Also, if having those info dumps wasn’t enough, the characters would do it themselves. There were a couple of times where the dialogue was so exposition-heavy that I was taken out of the book. The setting itself was a fairly run-of-the-mill European fantasy world, with nothing too special. It didn’t require so much heavy exposition.
“All the answers you seek are there, but only if you are willing to hear them.”
The pacing in this book was… interesting. It was slow in some parts, and rushed in others, giving me a bit of whiplash when reading. The beginning was especially slow-feeling. Honestly, it wasn’t until the 200 page mark that I found myself even remotely interested in what was going on. Maybe it’s fantasy fatigue, since I’ve read so much of it, but I doubt it. I can usually find myself interested in most plots, but I just couldn’t with this one. There were a lot of tropes that I usually love but in this book, they felt unnecessary and lazy. Even the romance plot line didn’t hook me, which says a lot.
Also, there is one big thing that bugged me- the twist. Yes, there’s a twist, and that’s not a spoiler because you can tell what the twist is just from the prologue. By the end of the first chapter, I knew what the major twist would be, and how the book would end (and I was right). But at the same time- I actually didn’t think the twist was supposed to be a twist?? I thought maybe it was going to be a minor reveal a couple of chapters in, at most, because it felt too obvious. I’m okay with things being a little predictable, but what I really didn’t like was how certain things make little to no sense if you know the truth, from plot points, to how certain characters even think. It really frustrated me as I was reading and constantly would take me out of the book.
“The lesson, my son, is that we alone, no matter how skilled or how smart or how rich, are but spokes, and cannot move the wheel alone; only together can we do that.”
Speaking of characters- we have two main protagonists: Shadow and Caledon. Neither of them have too much of a personality. Shadow is determined and decently smart. Caledon is determined… and decently smart… BUT he’s also a little more violent so look! They’re not the same person! Honestly, both of them felt a little one dimensional and lacked character growth over the course of the book. And the side characters weren’t much better. I really can’t remember that much about them, and I only finished the book yesterday. One character shows up in the first act, and randomly pops up in the climax for some reason? With no explanation for why or how he got there? I did find the Queen interesting. She was probably the most unique character in the book, who actually had some depth.
Pros- Interesting premise
Cons- Weak characters, exposition heavy, predictable, odd pacing
Overall- 2.5/5 stars.
It may seem like I hate this book, but I really don’t. It just wasn’t for me. The Queen’s Assassin had a lot of promise, and I think I’m just really bitter that it didn’t live up to my hopes. That said, if you go into this not looking for something perfect, you might find yourself enjoying it.
If You Liked The Queen’s Assassin, I’d Recommend:
- Ruined (Ruined #1) by Amy Tintera – [Review]
- Graceling (The Graceling Realm #1) by Kristen Cashore – [Review]
- Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1) by Livia Blackburne – [Review]
Have you ever been disappointed by one of your most anticipated releases?