I really wanted to love The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz. This is going to be one of those book reviews where I say that all the elements were there for me to love. But the way it ended up being executed, ha, just weren’t my style.
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
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the Bookish First. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
The Queen’s Assassin is a story about following our heart. Are we just reduced to our duty? To the promises of those that can before us? The ties of our bloodline? It’s a book bound by blood and oaths, promises of revenge and justice. Both Shadow and Cal are faced with lives, and futures, they don’t want. They both dream of something more even as Cal has grown accustomed never being allowed to dream of anything else. Are we just the roles we’ve been given?
My main issue with The Queen’s Assassin were the characters. At the beginning Cal comes off as someone who is rather arrogant. While he definitely thaws out as the story progresses, he doesn’t seem very grateful for Shadow or her talents. I had a soft spot for Cal because it’s not that he doesn’t want things, it’s that he’s so used to his duty that he hasn’t even dreamt of anything else. Whereas Shadow spends more of her life, seemingly, dreaming of a different future. But I had a hard time with Shadow’s POV – The Queen’s Assassin is written in dual POV.
Shadow seemed closed off, like she was hiding secrets from the readers and herself. Having finished The Queen’s Assassin, I can see the reasoning why the secrecy and random hidden talents of Shadow, but it was revealed too late. I felt like I never knew her. Like I didn’t have a good sense of the emotional turmoil or evolution of Shadow. Because of that, I liked Cal’s perspective more, but I really wanted to love Shadow more.
The Queen’s Assassin is a book with conflicted characters between duty and love. Do we have to have one or the other? When we live our lives for a purpose, our family, a greater future, that can leave our hearts cold and our lives lonely. At the end of the day we have to wonder, to figure out, if it’s worth it.