The Queen’s Assassin Is Royally Fantastic!

The Queen's Assassin by Melissa Del La Cruz (Hardback, 374 pages.)

Source: Penguin Random House

The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa Del La Cruz (Hardback, 374 pages.)

Lauren Brown , Guest Contributor

Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of over 60 books, Melissa De La Cruz’s newest YA release The Queen’s Assassin tops the charts as a New York Times and Indie bestseller. The book is the first in Cruz’s newest series that will enthrall readers with its mystery, twists, turns, and romance. Published by Penguin Random House, this 374-page novel will leave you craving for more of its magic, banter, and wonderful characters.

The story begins with the death of the kingdom’s king and the oath the Queen’s assassin makes, binding him to the queen until he fulfills his mission to retrieve the ancient scrolls. This oath was inherited by his son Caledon after his death, also binding him to the queen’s service. Fast forward eighteen years, and a girl named Shadow living with her aunts is eager to become an assassin of the guild but is expected to be a lady of the court. On a chance encounter, she meets Caledon, who saves her life before being arrested for murder and sent to prison. Taking destiny into her own hands, Shadow runs away and breaks him out in exchange for being his apprentice. The two are forced to work together to unveil a threatening foe that puts their entire kingdom in danger, all the while falling in love with one another. With Cal’s skill and Shadow’s determination and magic, the two make the ultimate team in unraveling the deep corruption happening all around them.

Cruz is an author who has become very skilled at developing advanced and interesting worlds for her stories to take place in and allow her characters to thrive. The first two pages of the novel are dedicated to a map of the kingdom, including close up drawings and location names. Political relationships are well established and add to the story, such as the rising tension between the characters’ home kingdom of Renovia and the neighboring kingdom of Montrice. This heightens the motivations of both Shadow and Caledon since they are both trying to accomplish a goal that will keep their home safe. Shadow’s character is strong, intelligent, and extremely stubborn. She doesn’t mind some sparkles but also isn’t afraid of a fight, as she showcases a few times, much to Caledon’s surprise. Caldeon however, is more closed off, sarcastic, smart, and equally as stubborn as Shadow. He originally considered rejecting her but a phrase his father used to say changed his mind; 

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.” 

Even though he agrees to take her on as an apprentice, the two still butt heads throughout. Their witty banter makes the book a fun read, my personal favorite being Shadow’s remark after seeing a terrible looking wanted poster of Caledon. 

“Shame,” Shadow says, shaking her head. “They gave you way too much beard. Yours is actually a bit shorter and gnarlier than that. Otherwise though…” Cruz perfectly executes a relationship between the two, depicting their stubborn personalities clashing and sarcastic remarks in a realistic way that will leave you grinning.

An interesting stylistic choice this novel has is the perspective of switching chapters. Shadow’s perspective is in first person while Cal’s is in third person, both present tense. It’s Shadow’s story but Cal’s chapters give an authentic look at what he’s really feeling, a trait of the New Sincerity movement. Being able to read in both characters’ perspectives fully fleshes out what each character is thinking and helps to explain their actions. It makes the book more engaging and relatable as feelings of jealousy, sadness, and anger are shown on top of pleasant emotions. Both characters are also active protagonists, or have pragmatic idealism, carrying the story on with their actions rather than the story carrying them. Shadow and Cal both have goals in mind and seize their chances to reach them, working together to achieve their goals.

The Queen’s Assassin is an exciting read that will grip you with its immense world and great characters. The ending makes a move I did not expect that surpassed my expectations and left me hungry for more. If you enjoy fantasy books with great world-building and romantic subplots, I highly recommend checking out this book. Be aware that this book is the first in a series, so if you read it as a stand-alone, you’ll be disappointed with loose ends. Otherwise, it’s a very entertaining and engaging read!