The Queen’s Assassin

Putnam. Feb. 2020. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525515913.
Gr 9 Up–Magic, destiny, and warring kingdoms shape the lives of Caledon Holt and Shadow of the Honey Glade. Cal is the Queen’s assassin, bound by blood to avenge the king’s murder and return the coveted Deian Scrolls. Shadow, raised away from the palace to hide her true identity as the princess, has learned the magic of the Heathstone Guild and would rather use her skills to save the kingdom instead of serving as a lady of the Renovian Court. After Cal saves Shadow from a traitorous attack, she runs away to become his apprentice. Unaware of Shadow’s true identity, Cal is both attracted to and infuriated by his headstrong companion. Together, they embark on a dangerous quest, full of royal intrigue and complicated by their feelings for each other. The story is told in the present tense from both Cal’s and Shadow’s perspectives, with occasional chapters explaining the history of the kingdoms of Avantine. The main and secondary characters are well drawn, and romantic pairings matter-of-factly include lesbian “aunts” and a gay couple. The action-packed narrative captures readers’ attention from the start, expertly weaving plot twists, betrayal, magical elements, and traces of humor throughout. Scenes of violence are not overwhelming or gratuitous. The story is complete, but hints at a sequel.
VERDICT A first purchase for fans of epic fantasy and dynamic heroines.

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