Jun 6, 2017

ARC Review--Thief's Cunning by Sarah Ahiers

The companion novel to Assassin’s Heart—a riveting fantasy that Printz Award-winning author Laura Ruby said “will keep you turning the pages all night long”—Thief’s Cunning picks up eighteen years later and follows Allegra Saldana as she uncovers the secrets about the line of killers she descends from.

Allegra Saldana has always had to look over her shoulder. As the niece of the infamous assassin Lea Saldana, Allegra is used to hiding from people who want her dead. Once the strongest clipper family in the Kingdom of Lovero, the Saldanas—or what’s left of them—are now the most hunted. Their number one enemy is the Da Vias, whose thirst for retaliation is almost two decades in the making.

At least that’s what Lea has told Allegra her whole life, but lately Allegra’s been feeling like things are being kept from her—including her parents’ identity. So when Allegra finally learns the truth—I’m a Da Via—her world crumbles. Feeling betrayed by the people she trusted the most, Allegra turns to Nev, a Traveler boy whose presence makes her feel alive in ways she’s only dreamed of. But getting caught up in Nev’s world has consequences Allegra never saw coming.

In this dark and enthralling fantasy that fans of Sarah Maas and Leigh Bardugo will devour, one girl must decide whether she’s destined to pay for the wrongs of her family’s past…or if the future is hers for the taking.

I received this ARC from the author in a contest that I won for pure enjoyment purposes. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Sarah Ahiers returns to the world of Assassin’s Heart in Thief’s Cunning. It’s been eighteen years since those events, so Lea and Les are grown up and as are the children they had rescued from the Da Vias. One of them being Allegra, her niece, who seems to have gained some of Lea’s own feistiness. Allegra longs to break free from the rules and constraints that she grew up with and find the place where she belongs. She’s not sure where that is just yet, but the journey is what she’s looking forward to the most.

Lea and Les have kept Allegra sheltered more so than Emile, her brother of sorts since they were raised together. Emile has been content with the life he’s lived, yet Allegra longs for something more. But it seems she will always be battling with Lea on things. When she’s allowed to attend a fealty ceremony in Lea’s old hometown, she thinks that this will be the start to her great journey. Though she gets far more than she anticipated. She meets a traveler boy from a menagerie and instantly a connection forms. Nev is the perfect kind of distraction from her life. They seem to suit one another perfectly.

Then Allegra learns the truth about her parentage. She’s always been told that both her parents were dead, her father being one of Lea’s brothers. But when she learns her mother, Claudia Da Via is still alive, she can’t help but feel hurt and betrayed by Lea. It’s during this height of confusion and arguments that Allegra is kidnapped by none other than Nev and his people.

Allegra possesses a necklace given to her by Les that apparently belongs to the travelers. Les was half-traveler and he had taken the necklace from his mother before she died and gifted it to Allegra on her birthday. This necklace is a powerful thing though, only given to ones who are meant to protect the traveler clan.

Allegra finds herself with very few friends among the travelers, all except for Nev, who continues to try to protect her. The necklace is a treasured relic for them and for an outsider to possess it, angers some of them and confuses the rest. Allegra cannot simply just give it back to them for a necklace can only be passed down after death. Though there is at least one person who wouldn’t mind making that happen.

While I did enjoy this story, I found I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Assassin’s Heart. While the first book had revenge on its mind, that is not the case here. I would say the storyline drifts more to personal journeys and freedom. Allegra feels constantly caged and she longs to stretch her wings and soar.

The pacing was a little slower as well, as I sort of expected for Allegra to be kidnapped early on and have her journey shortly thereafter. She wasn’t taken until the halfway point and then it was her struggling to escape and figure out where she wanted to run to. Her home with Lea, which had started to feel like a prison or the home with her real mother, Claudia Da Via who she recently comes into contact with?

Sadly this book didn’t feel as adventurous as its predecessor either. I know I shouldn’t expect a similar storyline but I had hopes for more. More adventure and daring feats, more romantic tension coupled with a slow building romance. More laughter, just more. While we get some of these things it just didn’t feel like enough.

The romance between Allegra and Nev was cute. They started out with a falling fast, not into love but simply lust and just fun. Naturally, deeper feelings start to come about but I feel like that too just sort of popped up instead of letting me see them fall deeper into love or something like it. True, I can’t quite remember how things went with Lea and Les and again, I don’t expect to have a replay of everything here, but at the same time, I will say that I am a fan of the slow-burning romances. The ones that take time to come about and where you can actually see the feelings being developed.

Despite these minor issues, I did still enjoy the story! I loved coming back to this fantastical world. There are still ghosts that haunt the night in the fields and towns too! I wish we could have more with them! These are dangerous ghosts that can actually kill you and try to steal your body. Granted, it can’t work, but they can kill you and then you join them in the whole misery process. I’d love to see more expanded upon with these not quite villainous characters!

Thief’s Cunning is definitely one you should check out if you enjoyed the first book, Assassin’s Heart! While I didn’t feel the same things while reading this one as I did the first, I still enjoyed the sort of nostalgia one gets by returning to a familiar world! Plus the characters are still lovable and hateable, so it all works out in the end!


Overall Rating 4/5 stars

Thief’s Cunning releases June 13, 2017 


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